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With all of the messages of empowerment across the globe in honor of International Women’s Day , the team here at Green Generation Initiative, thought about the women who inspire us –whether they’re public figures with larger-than-life accomplishments and accolades, or the incredible women in our personal lives who encourage and motivate us every day.In their honor, we’ve created some messages featuring these amazing women and the qualities that make them so inspirational, as well as some personal anecdotes of why they deserve to be recognized. So, here’s to women past, present and future, may we continue to empower and support each other today and always.

      Liz Mazingira- Inspired by the Late Nobel Laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai. In a world where most people are seemingly more concerned with material possessions and their own lives than the condition of the world and the hardships that others have to endure, Professor, Wangari Muta Maathai used her hands and heart to sow seeds for a greener and more community-minded Africa, confident that the message will spread. She spent most of her life planting trees and promoting movements designed to make people aware of how important it is to take care of the planet, starting by simply being conscious about the environment within their own communities.Even though Maathai changed the world for many Africans through her hard work and dedication, she was very conscious of the fact that she could save the environment alone. No matter where you live or what age you are, you, too, can make a difference. All it takes is an idea or the desire to change something and the drive to make it happen.

            Monicah Njuki- Inspired by my mother; Eunice Nyaga. My mother has always been the most influential woman in my life. Not every girl can say that and I wish they could. I tell people stories about my mom and I and they always tell me how lucky I am, and I know I am. This woman has given me the most strength anyone could possibly every give me. From break ups, to make ups, from gossip to heart-to-hearts, from the perspective of the entire world to a grain of sand, she has given me the greatest advice, has taught me the greatest lessons, and has never, ever left my side.

         Macharia Anne – Inspired by every Woman/Girl.     It is rightly said that “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women, who have her back.” I also owe whatever I am today to great women who have influenced my life and shaped my life, some very close to me, some afar; some very unknown to the world but close to my heart, and some very known and renowned figures inspiring by their life from afar. Each of you has taught me something different. I love that God calls us into community as we do. He allows each of us to meet beautiful and wise souls to commune together. God has this system down. All of you hold a special piece of my heart, life would be boring without you, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all that you do. As much as I do “on my own,” I know I am never truly alone as long as I have you all. Happy International Women’s day!

           Elizabeth Wanjiko - Inspired by Jane Goodall. Jane, of England origin, is well-known for her love of chimpanzees and her extensive years of field research on the species. In July 1960, she traveled from England to Tanzania and set out to discover the secrets of the chimpanzee species. Her unconventional approach to her research transformed relationships between humans and animals where she established Jane Goodall’s roots & shoots to empower youths of all ages to mobilize their peers and pursue their passion in animal welfare conservation.

        Abigael Kima – Inspired by my mother. My mum is truly the best person I know, I don’t know where or who I would be without you. She has have given me more than enough wonderful memories to replace all of the bad ones. She is the strength I never had and the reason that I know what a mother’s love feels like. Mom, thank you for being here when you didn’t have to, and for everything you do for me. You are exactly what I envision to be and I couldn’t imagine a good life without you in it.

         Perpetual Wanjiku- Inspired by Maya Angelou. What a beautiful recommendation has been given by one of the most remarkable author of all times, Maya Angelou. She is one of the authors who has inspired me so much. I love the fact that she has managed to deal with all of the obstacles she went through in her life. Maya had raised her voice to explore some of the most sensitive and conscious subjects of society including rape and provocation of women.

          Prudence Wanjiru Kamori- Inspired by Mother Teresa, famously known for her great acts of charity and compassion towards the needy, also insisted on the importance of each and everyone in this world and that no act is little as derived from her quote that “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but if that drop were not there, I think the ocean would be less by that missing drop." Moreover her quote that "Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come, we have only today, let us begin" really stresses on the ability to better our lives and those of others Today.

       Caroline Nyambura Kariuk- - Inspired by Oprah Winfrey. She is an inspiration to me because she embodies the ambitious, self-driven woman that I aspire to become. She has broken down the barriers of a male dominated industry and paved the way for other women to follow in her footsteps. Oprah uses her status as a platform to highlight global issues such as poverty and child abuse. Through her charity organization she has donated millions of dollars to provide help for people in countries across the globe.

                                Milly Kiburi - inspired by my Mother.   For me, my inspiration comes from a more personal place. My female inspiration is my amazing mom. My mom continuously brings an abundance of joy to my life and strives to maintain a positive energy that clearly radiates in all that she does. She always has a smile on her face and this just proves how sincerely she cherishes each day. Thank you mom, for being my best friend and the one I can rely on each and every day. You have a heart of gold and I couldn’t be luckier to have you as a role model. I love you endlessly.

                           Gloria Yego- Inspired by My Mother.           Super humans, we read about them, watch them and admire them in the virtual world - but I live with a superhuman. She is my mother. Whenever I look at my mother I see an ordinary person but when I think about what she does and how she does it she becomes divine and the reason of my smile! The experience of my life so far has truly brought things into perspective. My mother has taught me that hard times can be overcome and that losing battles can be won. She has taught me more than I could have learnt from any book. She sets an inspirational example to me teaching me how to live life and make wise choices, even in the most uncertain situations.

             Mungai Janet Wambui - Inspired by the late prof. Wangari Maathai. Her passion for the environment just wows me.The struggles that she went through during her fight for the restoration and protection of forests offer a great inspiration to me as an environmentalist.

Happy International women's day! from the GGI family.


Facts about the recently trending, ‘Wangari Maathai’s memorial tree cut down’.

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A picture of the stump of a tree which was planted in memory of the late Nobel Laureate Professor. Wangari Maathai in 2011, has caused uproar among Kenyans on social media with demands to know who cut down the said tree and for what reasons. This comes only a few days to the celebration of Wangari Maathai Day 2019 set to be spearheaded by the Greenbelt Movement on 3rd March,2019 through an official opening of the Wangari Maathai conference facility and a pre-tree planting activity on 2nd March,2019 at City park. But is the picture really what it looks like? here is everything you need to know.

Continue reading “Facts about the recently trending, ‘Wangari Maathai’s memorial tree cut down’.”

Meet Yacouba Sawadogo: The man who stopped the desert.

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Hailing from Northern Burkina Faso, Yacouba Sawadogo was born 72 years ago and struggled as a young man to understand what was happening in the degrading environment. On realizing that there was a crisis, he made a wise decision and took action to reverse the situation. He is a famous farmer known for his good deeds of having grown a 40-hectare forest on barren land which has now more than 60 species of trees and bushes. Yacouba Sawadogo was one of the keynote speakers during the 2018 Global Landscapes Forum that was held in Bonn Germany.

Yacouba Sawadogo and I during the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany.

In early 1980s when crops failed and famine struck, some people died and many others opted to leave the rural areas to find income in the cities. However, Sawadogo chose to move back from the city to his rural village in order to find a solution to the crisis. He reintroduced and further developed a traditional farming technique known as “zai” in his local language.

The technique builds on experimenting with traditional planting pits for soil, water and biomass retention. Instead of just cutting the hard crust of soil to create planting pits, he dug the pits bigger, deeper, and put manure in them during the dry season. He then added elements like rock walls, and termites and created the magic formula to enhance water retention and fertility in deeply depleted soils.

At the very beginning, Yacouba was thought to be a “madman” and faced much resistance from locals to an extent that he saw his forest set on fire. Despite all this, Yacouba chose not to give up. In fact, people came to admire his work over time and he has continued to receive thousands of visitors from the region and beyond who are always eager to learn from him.

“This project is for future generations. I don’t want to eat today and leave future generations with nothing to eat. The work I do is to create the seeds for wealth – not only for Burkina Faso but for many other countries.” Yacouba Sawadogo. In the same spirit, Yacouba has continued to empower farmers to regenerate their land by organizing trainings. As a result of his efforts, tens of thousands of hectares of severely degraded land has been restored to productivity in Burkina Faso and Niger.

Sawadogo’s technique is one that can be adopted towards food secure nations worldwide as it helps conserve rainwater and improve soil fertility. This means that farmers can still produce crops even in years of drought. The trees planted alongside crops can help produce fodder for livestock, enrich soil and also create business opportunities such as bee keeping. This technique is one of the best climate change adaptation measure and can help reduce poverty and prevent natural resources and water conflicts.

Yacouba prepares the soil by filling holes with compost

Yacouba Sawadogo is one of the 2018 right livelihood award laureate for turning barren land into forest and demonstrating how farmers can regenerate their soil with innovative use of indigenous and local knowledge. He vowed to stop the desert, and he made it because he moved from commitment to action. It is possible. The future of this planet belongs to all of us and all of us must do something to protect it.

10 Forest Facts You Never Knew

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  1. Every minute we lose 60 football fields worth of forests to deforestation. That’s one football field lost every second. Global deforestation is on an upward trend, threatening various efforts aimed at tackling climate change and the massive decline of wildlife. In 2017, the data from a global satellite survey revealed that the world lost more than one football pitch of forest every second.

    Oil palm estate and rainforest in malaysian Borneo
    Oil palm estate and rainforest in malaysian Borneo
  2. 1.6 billion people on this planet depend on forests for their daily livelihood. The first-ever survey on forest genetic resources by FAO called for urgent measures to protect forest resources as they provide a range of economic, health and ecological benefits. Out of the 1.6 billion people depending on forest for daily livelihoods, 60 million indigenous people are almost wholly dependent on forests for livelihood. Forest tree species have evolved into some of the most genetically diverse organisms in existence and if urgent conservation measures are not taken, the increasing population pressure may lead to the loss of forest genetic resources.
  3. 20% of the planets oxygen is produced in the amazon rainforest. The Amazon rainforest has always been described as the “Lungs of our Planet” as it provides the essential environmental world service of continuously recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen. Actually, more than 20 percent of the world oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rain-forest.

    Amazon rainforest
  4. 80% of the world’s plants and animal species depend on forests for their homes. Forests are so much more than a collection of trees. Forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. These ecosystems are complex webs of organisms that include plants, animals, fungi and bacteria.
  5. 1 out of 4 medicines we take are derived from plants and trees. Aspirin was made from willow trees! We could be losing the next wonder medicine that cures everything. Over 8000 tree-species that represent 10% of the earths’ trees are threatened with extinction. This is as a result of the degradation of woodland and forest habitat or unsustainable timber production. The Woolly willow is one such species; a bushy willow found only in mountain areas.

    Willow tree where aspirin is made from
  6. We got a Methuselah, 5000 years old-oldest tree in the world. Bristle-cone pine tree located in White Mountains California. However, the exact location of the gnarled, twisted Methuselah is a Forest Service secret, for its protection.

    Methuselah bristle-cone pine
  7. 4 primary drivers of tree loss: Beef, Soy, Palm oil and Timber. These are by far the leading causes of deforestation and forest degradation in the world. Beef is recognized as the worst deforestation culprit as well as a major cause of climate change. The increase in soy production resulting from its rising use in the livestock sector as animal feed has also led to forest loss. Increasing demand for wood and wood products as well as palm oil for bio-diesel and use in processed foods, has also led to the massive loss of forests.
  8. Cutting down trees releases the same amount of annual carbon into the atmosphere as all cars, trucks, planes and trains in the world combined. It might take a long time before we transform the world’s transportation fleet to be emission-free. However, right now, if we focus on halting the cutting and burning of tropical rain-forests, we could eliminate 17 percent of all global emissions. Trees help stabilize climate which helps reduce natural disasters such as forest fires, floods and landslides.
  9. There are over 60,000 tree species on this planet. According to the first ever comprehensive list of tree species compiled and released by scientists from the U.K.-based Botanic Gardens Conservation International, the list of all known tree species totals to 60,065 different kinds.

    Avenue of Baobabs in Western Madagascar.
  10. 150 species a day become extinct because of habitat loss. According to the UN Environment Programme, the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction of life. This follows a scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every day. This is actually greater than anything the world has experienced ever since the vanishing of the dinosaurs nearly 65 million years ago.

Author,  Liz Mazingira. Reach out: 0726309533.

Twitter handle: @   #UnkownForestFacts

21-year-old following in Wangari Maathai’s footsteps

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What would the average Kenyan do if they ‘failed’ their KCSE? Give up perhaps. I was tempted to do the same but I did not My name is Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti. I am 21-years-old, currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and community development at Kenyatta University. In 2013, when the KCSE results for 2012 candidates were announced, I was heartbroken to learn I had scored 58 points.

I know 58 points is a lot – enough to earn anyone admission at any institution of higher learning. But for me, they were not enough. They were a point shy of JAB (Joint Admissions Board) cut off mark – which I needed if my dream to get into university were to come to fruition. I could not attend university as a private student. I knew that my mother, Margaret Wathuti, would not be able to raise the money needed to make this a reality. So when I saw my name below the line separating those who made it for JAB, I was depressed. So much so that my mother sent aunties over to tell me that there are many other things I could do with my life, that all was not lost. I wasn’t even listening. In my mind there was no other place to go to except the university.  I opted to go back to school and resit the exam and when the 2013 results were announced in 2014, I had scored 65 points.

My efforts had paid off and I could finally get university education and become the person I have so strongly wanted to become: an environmentalist. This is a quest I take seriously. Especially at this moment after being declared one of two 2016 recipients of the Wangari Maathai Scholarship, established by The Rockefeller Foundation, The Green Belt Movement and Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF). This was my second attempt. I applied as a first year student in 2015 and although I did not qualify, I never gave up — that is my strongest quality. In fact, when I asked Melvin Chibole of KCDF why I won the second time round he told me: “You are doing so much for the environment already. The fact that you never gave up applying again worked to your advantage.” Wangari Maathai was a big inspiration for many in Tetu. She was my member of parliament when I was a young girl. I read books about her. My mother would tell me that if I wanted to meet Maathai so much I should study hard – like Maathai.

People tell me I have a lot of passion for the environment. This, I believe, could be because I have managed quite a few feats compared to many 20-year-olds at my university. For instance, in my second year, I was already the chairperson of Kenyatta University Environment Club (KUNEC). I had risen from being a first year representative to vice-chairperson, and then chairperson — within two years. They have been witnesses of the numerous clean-ups I have organised as well as the tree planting activities I have been involved in. That is pretty much how I spend my time. I have also been previously elected project coordinator at Africa Youth Initiative for Climate Change (AYICC), a pan African forum for young people who love the environment.

Currently, I run an initiative called Green Generation Initiative whose main aim is to nurture more young environmental enthusiasts through conducting environmental education sessions as well as tree planting activities through adopt a tree campaign. I am also a full member of the Greenbelt movement. What Maathai achieved with her life is insurmountable. It however, feels good knowing that I am right on track — following her footsteps and giving back to mother Earth.