Dr. Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement

Dr. Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. Dr. Maathai is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for Democracy, Human Rights, Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development.  Dr. Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement

Wangari Maathai was a force of nature,” said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations’ environmental program. He likened her to Africa’s ubiquitous acacia trees, “strong in character and able to survive sometimes the harshest of conditions.”

In 2004, after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, in her Nobel Lecture, Dr Maathai states; “My inspiration partly comes from my childhood experiences and observations of Nature in rural Kenya.

Dr. Wangari Maathai

Dr. Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement

It has been influenced and nurtured by the formal education I was privileged to receive in Kenya, the United States and Germany. As I was growing up, I witnessed forests being cleared and replaced by commercial plantations, which destroyed local biodiversity and the capacity of the forests to conserve water”…… In 1977 when we started the Green Belt Movement, I was partly responding to the needs identified by rural women, namely lack of firewood, clean drinking water, balanced diets, shelter and income.”

Dr. Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt MovementDr Maathai’s initiatives in Africa with the Green Belt Movement saw the planting of hundreds of thousands of trees in Africa. Additionally, thousands of ordinary citizens were mobilized and empowered to take action and effect change. The Green Belt movement inspired the “Billion Tree Campaign”, which, to date has recorded the planting of 13.8 billion trees.

Wangari Maathai said that “Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.”