A few nights ago I couldn’t sleep, so I watched the BBC news broadcast on BBC America. A story about Kenya caught my attention, and I haven’t been able to forget about it. Northern Kenya is currently suffering from a drought that is devastating the area’s livestock, leaving farmers without a livelihood. Desertification globally makes 12 million hectares useless for farming annually, which affects 1.2 billion people, according to the World Bank. Climate change will cause the area of deserts to increase 17 percent.
While developed countries, namely the U.S., drag their feet in climate change negotiations, groups such as the Green Belt Movement (GBM) are doing what they can to fight climate change. The GBM is a 34-year old group established by Wangari Maathai and the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK). It has a network of over 4,000 community groups in Kenya that plant trees and protect the environment.
A 2009 report, Responding to Climate Change from the Grassroots: The Green Belt Movement Approach lists three ways the GBM works to fight climate change:
1. Mitigation through tree planting and ecosystem conservation and management
2. Adaptation through promoting tree planting and sustainable agricultural techniques including growing indigenous food crops, harvesting rain water and stopping soil erosion.
3. Promotion of sustainable development through diversifying livelihoods, and educating people to become more economically resilient
Maathi is quoted in the report as saying that there will be “a fast spread of the Sahara desert,” which is in fact spreading now. In turn, the spread of the Sahara desert will cause “violent competition over shrinking arable land, grazing land and water points,” and eventually there will be crop failure “because of changing rainfall patterns.” As a result, there will be “massive starvation and mitigations.”
“An effective and fair response to climate change requires not just emission reductions, but also a significant scale-up of support from the developed world to the less developed world to finance adaptation and mitigation,” the report states. Part of that needs to be financing for the U.N.’sĀ reforestation and prevention of ongoing deforestation and forest degradation program, commonly known as REDD. About 20 percent of global carbon emissions come from land use change through clearing and burning of forests, so investing in REDD makes sense.
[photo credits] User: treesftf