The Green Belt Movement (GBM) is an environmental organization that empowers communities, particularly women, to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods.
GBM was founded by Professor Wangari Maathai in 1977 under the auspices of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK) to respond to the needs of rural Kenyan women who reported that their streams were drying up, their food supply was less secure, and they had to walk further and further to get firewood for fuel and fencing. GBM encouraged the women to work together to grow seedlings and plant trees to bind the soil, store rainwater, provide food and firewood, and receive a small monetary token for their work.
GBM’s activities include:
Tree Planting and Watersheds
The Green Belt Movement uses a watershed-based approach to restore degraded watersheds of key water catchments so as to improve their functions and improve the livelihood of the local communities. Since 1977, GBM communities have planted over 51 million trees in Kenya, in watersheds in the highlands of Mt. Kenya, the Aberdares, and the Mau Complex- three of the five major mountain ecosystems in Kenya, as well as on private lands. GBM also plants trees on public lands with institutions such as faith based groups, schools, and has a partnership with the Kenya Army to help access remote areas for planting and tree planting on army lands.
GBM advocates for greater political accountability and the expansion of democratic space in Kenya. GBM has called for, time and time again, an end to land grabbing, deforestation and corruption.
Tackling Climate Change
GBM has a Climate Change Program that aims at strengthening the understanding and capacity of rural communities to take action against climate change. GBM also raises awareness nationally on the role of local communities and forests in tackling climate change.
Gender Livelihoods and Advicacy
GBM builds on over 35 years’ experience working with the community at the grassroots level. Through the Community Empowerment and Education program (CEE), community members are educated about the linkages between human activity and the environment, which empowers them to unite, take action, and stand up for their rights.
GBM promotes and enhances gender relations and involves women in decision-making processes. The CEE centers on women and community empowerment to take over leadership in their own situations.
GBM at a Glance
Number of GBM supported community tree nursery groups – 4,034
Number of indigenous seedlings raised by the community nurseries annually – 8,000,000 seedlings
Average number of trees planted in critical watershed areas annually – 5,000,000 trees
Number of trees planting sites in critical watersheds across Kenya – 6,500
Total number of trees planted since 1978 to date – Over 51 million
Average survival rate – 70%
April 13, 2015
By: Kenya Embassy, Stockholm