Wangari Maathai (1940- 2011) was founder of the Green Belt Movement. She the first woman in East and Central Africa to have acquired a Ph.D. degree. She was also the first environment who was given the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004. She wrote four books in her lifetime, namely, The Green Belt Movement; Unbowed: A Memoir; Replenishing the Earth and The Challenge for Africa. A documentary film by the name of Taking Root: the Vision of Wangari Maathai was made on her and this entire movement which was initiated by her.
“We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds”, said the president of The Green Belt Movement, Professor Wangari Maathai. Established in 1977 it has been successful in planting over 51 million trees in Kenya. The GBM works at the grassroots as well as national and international levels to conserve the environment. Not only that, but it also works for limiting the pollution levels, the betterment of society in general and in particular for girls and women. It also aims at building a democratic society with a nice healthy livelihood for every existing member of it.
Throughout Kenya there are around 3987 tree nurseries which are supported by the Green Belt Movement. More than 8 million organic seedlings are produced by these nurseries. With the help of the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) they record the positions of these nurseries and keep a watch for the number of plants which have been planted. The regular monitoring helps in high rates of survival of these trees. Keeping a record of these tree-planting areas keeps them maintain a record and also assures them that their efforts are eventually helping them to restore critical watersheds.
The Green Belt Movement mainly functions under three broad sub categories. They are Community Empowerment and Education (CEE), Tree Planting and Advocacy: –
The Community Empowerment and Education (CEE) helps to form a link between the activities of the people and the impact it has on the environment. It aims to spread awareness about the various benefits of planting trees and being more conscious of our surroundings. It motivates people to unify and take a stand, not only that but it also tells them to be strong to be able to stick to them. It also teaches the various communities how essential it is to create livelihoods through Food Security and Water Harvesting, Gender and Leadership and Climate Change.
The second stage of their three fold path is Planting Trees. GMB has begun a Watershed Based Approach, using which various communities can conserve ecosystems, restore natural flora and fauna and also minimize the effect of climate change on the environment. This Watershed Based Approach is undertaken by the 4000 community groups. It inculcates a feeling of participation and a restores a belief that every person can make a change within people. This in turn helps in the conservation of public spaces for the current as well as the future generations.
The last stage is the stage of Advocacy. The Green Belt Movement entwines the grassroots levels with the advocacy advice of international standards. At the very grassroots the primary focus of this organization is to form climate resilient communities through conservation of the watershed of various forests and making the living conditions sustainable and viable for the existence of several communities specifically in Kenya and all over Africa. The Green Belt movement aims to acquire this by adopting the twin methods of adaptation and mitigation. The former through achieving food security and water harvesting activities and the latter by planting of innumerous number of trees but at the right time and at the right place. On an international level The Green Belt Movement advocates for such an environmental policy that will have to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and the various rights of the innumerable existing communities who live at a close proximity or at times even inside the ecosystems present in sub-Saharan Africa and the Congo Basin Rainforest Ecosystem.
The list of the events that the Green Belt Movement has been undertaking are as follows:-
- Tree Planting Event, Moi Girls School
- Standard Chartered Tree Planting Launch at Starehe Girls School
- BBC Radio 4 Recording on 4th December 2013 with Jonathon Porritt
- Wangari Maathai’s 2nd memorial anniversary
- President of ABC Home and Planet Foundation Visits.
- GBM and Waterstone plantation visit
- Citi Bank’s Annual Global Community Day.
- World Environment Day 2013 at Karu Forest.
- GBM and FH1360 share project findings.
- Compensating tree nursery groups.
- Bamboo initiative project launch
- Bamboo plantation workshop by Waterstone and Green Belt Movement.
- Postal Corporation of Kenya and Green Belt Movement Tree Planting
- Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Wangari Maathai
- Celebration of the Wangari Maathai Scholarship Fund
- Wangari Maathai Scholarship Fund Winner
- International Day of Forests, 2013
The Green Belt Movement, in spite of being the brain child of one very level headed woman, is the product of all the individuals living in Kenya who have taken it upon themselves to protect and preserve their environment and in turn our planet Earth. Till date, it continues to encourage the participation of women in the various activities like planting trees, Preserving the watersheds and forests and strengthening the communities. It also inculcates the members to spread awareness and reach out to the citizens of Kenya and the people all over the world to take it upon themselves to make a difference to their respective surroundings. They have encouraged the people to take responsibility of the depleting natural resources and the adverse effects it is having upon the climatic conditions all over the world. They have induced the feeling of being an active member of the society. The Green Belt Movement was a revolutionary movement in itself, and every resident of this Earth should learn something from it. Even if every person plants one tree every day it can solve many problems and make the world a better place to live in.