Read the following autobiographical essay about Maathai’s Green Belt Campaign in Kenya:
The Green Belt Movement started in my backyard. I was involved in a political campaign with a man I was married to; I was trying to see what I could do for the people who were helping us during our campaign, people who came from the poor communities. I decided to create jobs for them: cleaning their constituency, planting trees and shrubs, cleaning homes of the richer people in the communities, and getting paid for those services. That never worked, because poor people wanted support right away, and I didn’t have money to pay them before the people we were working for had paid me. So I dropped the project but stayed with the idea. Then, in 1976, two years after the first backyard idea, I was invited to join the National Council of Women of Kenya.
Photo credits: Patrick-Wallet and Green Belt Movement
We were into the UN’s “women’ decade”, and I got exposed to many of the problems women were facing: problems of firewood, malnutrition, lack of food and adequate water, unemployment, soil erosion. Quite often what we see in the streets of our cities, in the rural areas, in the slums, are manifestations of mistakes we make as we pretend we are “developing”, as we pursue what we are now calling maldevelopment.
And so we decided to go to the women. Why? Well, I am a woman. I was in a women’s organization. Women are the ones most affected by these problems. Women are concerned about children, about the future.
So we went to the women and talked about planting trees and overcoming, for example, such problems as the lack of firewood and building and fencing materials, stopping soil erosion, protecting water systems. The women agreed, although they didn’t know how to do it.
Click on link for YouTube videos of Class 11:
Basic Journal Entries in Nepali
Basic Journal Entries
Journal Entry and Ledger
Trial Balance & Adjusted Trial Balance
Bank Reconciliation Statement (BRS)
Final Account: Class 11
Adjustment In Final Account
Capital and Revenue
Single Entry System
Non-Profit Organization (Non-Trading Concern)
Goswara Voucher (Journal Voucher)
The next few months we spent teaching them how to do it. We first called the foresters to come and show the women how you plant trees. The foresters proved to be very complicated because they have diplomas; they have complicated ways of dealing with a very simple thing like looking for seeds and planting trees. So eventually we taught the women to just do it using common sense and they did. They were able to look for seeds in the neighborhood, and learn to recognize seedlings as they germinate when seeds fall on the ground. Women do not have to wait for anybody to grow trees. They are really foresters without a diploma.
We started on World Environment Day, June 5, 1977; that’s when we planted the first seven trees. Now, only two are still standing. They are beautiful Nandi flame trees. The rest died. But by 1988, when we counted according to the records women sent back to us, we had 10 million trees surviving. Many had already matured to be used by the women. But the most important thing is that the women were now independent; had acquired knowledge, techniques; had become empowered. They have been teaching each other. We started with one tree nursery in the backyard of the office of the National Council of Women. Today we have over 1,500 tree nurseries, 99 percent run by women.
The women get a very small payment for every seedling that survives. The few men who come are extremely poor, so poor that they don’t mind working with women. Women do a lot of work that requires caring. And I don’t believe that it is solely indoctrination. Women started the environmental movement, and now it has become a movement that even financial donors see they should put money in, because the efforts are providing results. But the minute money is in, the men come in. I would not be surprised that eventually the more successful the Green Belt movement becomes, the more infiltrated it will be by men, who will be there more for the economic benefit than the commitment.
Although men are not involved in the planting at the nursery, they are involved in the planting of trees on farms. These are small-scale farmers. In our part of Africa, men own land; in some communities they own separate titles to the land; in others there is still communal ownership, which is the tradition in Africa. We are most successful in communities where women are involved in land farming.
In Kenya, as in so much of the African continent, 80 percent of the farmers and the fuel gatherers are women. Women also keep animals. A large population of Kenyans is nomadic communities: the Maasai, the Samburu, the Somalis, most of the northern communities. We have been unsuccessful there. Yet this is where trees are much needed. Areas that are green now will soon be a desert if not cared for.
We have been approached by other countries, and in 1987 – 88 we launched what we hoped would become an effort to initiate Green Belt like activities in other African countries. Unfortunately, we have not been able to follow up. We started having our own problems in Kenya because of our having criticized the government for wanting to put up a big building in a Nairobi public park. But we are encouraging an establishment of a Green Belt Centre in Nairobi, where people can come and experience development that is community oriented, with community decision-making, and with development appropriate to the region.
Funding is always a problem. We never received any financial support from the Kenyan government. They gave us an office which they took away as soon as we criticized them. (In a way, it is good they didn’t give us money because they would have withdrawn that.) We receive much of our support from abroad, mostly from women all over this world, who send us small cheques. And the United Nations Development Fund for Women gave us a big boost, $100,000 in 1981. We also received support from the Danish Voluntary Fund and the Norwegian Agency for International Development. In the US we are supported by the African Development Foundation, which helped us make a film about the Green Belt Movement in 1985. Information on the film can be obtained from the Public Affairs Officer of the African Development Foundation, 1400 I Street, N.W., Washington D.C. 20005.
In the field, we now have about 750 people who teach new groups and help with the compilation of the reports, which we monitor to have an idea of what is happening in the field. At the headquarters, we now have about 40 people. When we were kicked out of our office, the headquarters moved back to my house; a full-circle returns to where we started.
But it’s 10 million trees later – not quite where we started. For myself, now that my two boys and a girl are big – the last boy is still in high school when we have trained enough women in leadership and fundraising, I would love to go back into an academic institution. I do miss it. My filed is biology. But I was into microanatomy and developmental anatomy. I would love to be able to read more about community development and motivation and write about the experience that I have had in the field. And perhaps train people on grass-roots projects. But that will have to wait. I earn maybe a tenth of what I could earn on the international market if I sold my expertise and energy, and I’m sure many people would probably consider me a fool. At home the men don’t believe that I don’t make a fortune out of the Green Belt Movement. But all over the world we women do this sort of thing.
My greatest satisfaction is to look back and see how far we have come. Something so simple but meaning so much, something nobody can take away from the people, something that is changing the face of the landscape.
But my greatest disappointment has been since I returned to Kenya in 1966 after my education in the United States. When I was growing up and going through school, I believe that the sky is the limit. I realized when I went home that the sky is not the limit; that human beings can make the limit for you, stop you from pursuing your full potential. I have had to fight to make a contribution. We lose so much from people because we don’t allow them to think freely and do what they can. So they lose their interest; their energy; the opportunity to be creative and positive. And developing countries need all the energy they can get.
I tell people that if they know how to read and write it is an advantage. But that all we really need is a desire to work and common sense. These are usually the last two things people are asked for. They are usually asked to use imposed knowledge they do not relate to, so they become followers rather than leaders.
For example, because I criticized the political leadership, I have been portrayed as subversive, so it’s very difficult for me to not feel constrained. I have the energy; I want to do exactly what they spend hours in the UN talking about. But when you really want to do it you are not allowed, because the political system is not tolerant or encouraging enough.
But we must never lose hope. When any of us feels she has an idea or an opportunity, she should go ahead and do it. I never knew when I was working in my backyard that I was playing around with would one day become a whole movement. One person can make the difference.
Keep in Mind
Wangari Muta Maathai was a renowned Kenyan social, environmental and political activist.
She was the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize.
She is known for the Green Belt Movement.
She was born on 1st April 1940 in Nyeri, Kenya.
She won a scholarship to study biology at Mount St. Scholastica College in Kansas.
***** #EPOnlineStudy *****
Thank you for investing your time.
Please comment on article.
You can help us by sharing this article at your social media platform.
Jay Google, Jay YouTube, Jay Social Media
जय गूगल, जय युट्युब, जय सोशल मिडिया