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African activism towards environmental conservation: the Green Belt Movement - Essay Example

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Formed in 1977 on 5th June - the World Environment Day, the Green Belt Movement is a community-based developmental and environmental organisation focused on social mobilization and empowerment that was achieved by organising thousands of women groups who established nurseries, planted indigenous trees on their farms…
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African activism towards environmental conservation: the Green Belt Movement
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Download file to see previous pages Formed in 1977 on 5th June - the World Environment Day, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) is a community based developmental and environmental organisation focused on social mobilization and empowerment that was achieved by organising thousands of women groups who established nurseries, planted indigenous trees on their farmsThe movement is wholly managed by the Kenyans and it deliberately prefers to rely on local capacity, knowledge, wisdom and expertise wherever appropriate (Mathai, p-6). The tree-planting movement, led mostly by women, aims to produce firewood, building materials, and also to slow down desertification. It also works for women's rights, democracy and peace. The movement rallied underprivileged, economically deprived rural women to plant millions of trees to reverse the rampant deforestation of Kenya by a corrupt government. In the process, the women not only acquired fuel, food, shelter which they desperately needed, but they also earned a small fee paid by the Green Belt Movement (GBM) for every seedling that flourished. In nearly three decades, the Green Belt Movement has planted more than 30 million trees and provided jobs for over 1,00,000 people, most of them again, women (Winfrey, 2005).The Green Belt Movement stands for the cause of biodiversity conservation and community empowerment. Since its beginnings, the movement has worked with more than one million children in 3,000 schools to plant trees on school compounds, got more than 50,000 households and small-scale farmers to plant trees on their farms, and produced numerous booklets and films on reforestation issues. The GBM persuaded the local administration to donate a 0.3 acre plot and acquired 8,000 seedlings of various species to begin with; and by 1989 they were handling 35,000 seedlings a year. The seedlings are sold to local farmers, schools or local officials and also to be planted on public land (Jiggins, p.98). In the last ten years, more than seven million trees are recorded as having been planted and being survived. More than 50,000 Kenyan women have been involved in the campaign (UNEP, 2005).

The person behind this movement is a lady of unusual grit and determination. Dr. Mathai's first initiative was the formation of a company named Envirocare Ltd, which was based in the Lang'ata constituency in Kenya. The primary objective of the company was to clean the homesteads of the residents of Lang'ata, and to plant trees wherever necessary. Local people were mobilised for this task, though the response initially was partial. Most of the people who were hired to work were too poor, and so, monetary compensation for work including transportation cost was expected to be borne by the company, which was yet to become financially self sufficient. With such financial liabilities, the company's take-off stage was fraught with difficulties (Mathai, p.12).

In 1975, a sincere effort was made to promote envirocare to potential clients through the "international show" (a forum for showcasing and promoting agricultural and economic goods for local and international clientele). But due to the unorganised nature of the company, which till then did not have any physical address, nor any specific seedling site, the orders generated for seedling during the show could not be processed in a professional way. Only the mailing address could be provided for procurement of seedlings. For obvious reason, these people never contacted envirocare again.

The most formidable drawback faced by envirocare was the resource crunch. The resource that the company had was just enough to stay functional. The company as such had poor support for the cause it upheld so earnestly. The gradual ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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