How the Green Belt Movement In Kenya Fights Climate Change

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.’s  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


    William C
    William C2 months ago

    Great, thanks.

    W. C
    W. C2 months ago

    Thank you for the article.

    Arielle Black-Foley


    Debbie L.
    Debbie Lim6 years ago

    It's good news to hear that people are trying everything they can to help those in need. It's part of everyones job to do something, because we all can.

    Monica D.
    Monica D6 years ago

    The GBM sound like they are doing good work. We need to live more sustainable lifestyles in the west. If the GBM can do it, so should we.

    Alice H.
    Alice H6 years ago

    Now for the rest of us to stand up and do our parts.


    Well that's good. Great post

    myra d.
    myra d6 years ago


    Sarah C.
    Sarah C6 years ago

    There should be more organisations like GBM. The clock is running out.

    Elena Arutiunova
    Elena Arutiunova6 years ago

    That's great