Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Green Belt Movement
The Green Belt Movement organizes poor rural women in Kenya to plant trees, combating deforestation, restoring their main source of fuel for cooking, and stopping soil erosion. Maathai has incorporated advocacy and empowerment for women, eco-tourism, and just economic development into the Green Belt Movement.
Since Maathai started the movement in 1977, over 25 million trees have been planted. Over 30,000 women trained in forestry, food processing, bee-keeping, and other trades that help them earn income while preserving their lands and resources. Communities in Kenya have been motivated and organized to both prevent environmental destruction and restore that which was damaged.
In 1989 the Movement took on the powerful business associates of President Daniel Arap Moi. A sustained, and often lonely protest, against the construction of a 60-story business complex in the heart of Uhuru Park in Nairobi was launched and won. In 1991 a similar protest was launched that saved Jeevanjee Gardens from the fate of being turned into a multi-story parking lot.
In 1998, the organisation led a crusade against the illegal allocation of parts of the 2,000 acre (8 km²) Karura Forest, a vital water catchment area in the outskirts of Nairobi. The struggle was finally won in 2003 when leaders of the newly elected NARC government affirmed their commitment to the forest by planting trees in the area.
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