Twenty years ago, Professor Wangari Maathai addressed government delegates at the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The world and its leaders were urged to address the growing environmental problems facing the planet. Only the transformation of our attitudes and behavior would bring about the sustainable use of our shared natural resources.
This blog was written by guest blogger Mark Wilson, a student at Copenhagen University (MSc Agricultural Development). He travelled to Kenya earlier this year as part of the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies’ (WMI) Interdisciplinary Land Use and Natural Resource Management (SLUSE) course. This field-based learning and research course focussed on land use and natural resource management issues by conducting practical research alongside the Green Belt Movement (GBM) and local communities.
In celebration of World Environment Day, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) and friends headed to the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies (WMI) for a tree planting event. Honoring this year’s theme of ‘green economy’, GBM’s Deputy Executive Director, Edward Wageni, highlighted the contributions GBM is making to the green economy through our tree planting efforts, environmental conservation and livelihood improvements.
Last Friday, May 18th, over 400 people gathered to launch the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict in Kenya, one of four initial countries to launch the campaign internationally. The event, hosted by the Green Belt Movement, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Wangu Kanja Foundation, and other partners began in ‘Freedom Corner’ in Uhuru Park early on Friday morning.
It was now two weeks since the Mount Kenya fire started and it had almost spread to the peak and the upper part of the forest. Every evening I went out of my house, about 10 km from the foot of the mountain, and just stared at the orange patches on the dark mountain. I wondered how the country seemed so at ease when I could see the mountain burning. I had heard form an Army officer how remains of hyenas, buffaloes and elephants were seen in the burnt areas. Early in the morning, I saw how fast the fire had spread throughout the night. The air smelt smoky and hot. During the day, smoke was so intense that it obscured the whole mountain. We had waited for so long for rain to come. We knew that if the rain did not come soon, the whole forest would go up in flames. In villages, vehicles and towns people were talking about the fire. The radio and TV stations also broadcasted messages about the raging fire.
Earlier this week, the Green Belt Movement co-hosted an East Africa regional meeting with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in Nairobi, Kenya. GBM was identified as a key regional partner in this new initiative from the UN Foundation, and several members of staff were there to represent GBM at the conference. Wanjira Mathai, Director of International Relations at GBM, spoke at the event to a receptive audience about the importance of protecting the environment in Kenya and empowering women.
On Wednesday, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) with the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) celebrated Wangari Maathai Day. Last month the African Union, in recognition of the work of the late Professor Wangari Maathai, designated the 3rd of March as Wangari Maathai Day to be observed each year with Africa Environmental Day.
Women, the cornerstones of African families, raise their children and nurture their families against many odds. Rural women have to overcome poverty, unemployment, gender discrimination, poor access to resources, illiteracy, and lack of empowerment on how to engage in leadership. At times the challenges can be even greater as women who are already disadvantaged face greater violence in their lives.
This January, the Green Belt Movement (GBM), with support from Agence Française de Développement (AFD), began filming our upcoming documentary to show the lessons learned from the AFD Aberdares Rehabilitation Project that started in 2006. The objective of the project was to plant 2,000 hectares of degraded forestland with indigenous trees. To date 3.8 million trees have been planted on 3,800 hectares of public and forestlands. Nearly double the project objective! GBM tree nursery groups grew indigenous trees and planted them in strategic areas that will in time increase tree cover, having a positive impact on ecosystem services like water volume and biodiversity.
This month the Green Belt Movement has joined the Size of Wales to plant 8000 trees in the Mathira District on the slopes of Mt Kenya. We wanted to share a little more about Mount Kenya and why have we chosen to plant trees in this region and why it is so crucial.