This article briefly reviews several nongovernmental organization (NGO) programs that address environmental and population issues. A framework is constructed that identifies how linked programs are supposed to work. The potential for sustainable communities is explored. It is concluded that sanctuaries in developing countries will not survive unless population in surrounding communities is stabilized and the economic and ecological relationships between the community and the sanctuary ecosystem are sustainable. In developed countries resource needs must be identified in regional planning in order for environmental protection to occur. The author finds that NGOs can be instrumental in securing community participation in environmental protection. NGOs operating in Chiapas, Mexico, provide management assistance and public health and family planning awareness to displaced indigenous farmers and conservative professionals. Another NGO outside the Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan, India, works to promote alternative fuel and grazing sources among local farmers. Near Chautara, in Nepal, farmers are aided by NGOs in laying sanitary water pipes, which reduces the amount of women's time required for fetching water and increases the amount of time women can spend gardening or getting involved in environmental projects. NGO efforts that reduce women's time absorbed by domestic burdens help women fulfill family planning desires and allow for greater investment in the education of children. Environmental sustainability will be dependent on family planning and other population-related processes and on the awareness that public health is an environmental issue. Opposition to integrated environment and population programs stems from donor opposition, opposition to investment in low-density areas, and a priority on biodiversity issues over development of public health services near sanctuaries. This paper was presented at an international forum at the George Washington University before the 1994 Cairo conference.
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