NAPO - CEPA - Reading Type 3 - Text 3

The Green Belt Movement

1.      As we all know, simple ideas are often the best. A good example is the Green Belt Movement, which started with the simple idea of planting a tree but became one of the most important environmental movements in the last century. Wangari Muta Maathai, the movement’s founder, won the 2004 Nobel Peace prize for her work, and because of her influence, other countries are following in her footsteps.

2.      The movement started during a time in Kenya’s history when the growing of cash crops had begun to change the landscape and the traditions of the country. Men owned the land and wanted to plant tea and coffee to get more money. To do this, they cut down the trees, which changed the environment of Kenya. The deforestation caused problems such as soil erosion and a change in rainfall patterns. The rivers became dry and there was not enough water. The cash crops also took away the traditional jobs of women. They were no longer able to gather firewood for cooking because the trees had been cut down, nor could they plant food crops to eat or sell because the men preferred to grow cash crops.

3.      Wangari thought women could solve these problems by planting trees. In 1977, she organized women into groups to plant seeds. She gave them simple advice – she told them to treat the tree seeds just like other seeds. So they planted the seeds in any pot they could find. Then when they began to grow, they put the seedlings, or small trees, into plastic bags and took care of them. When they were about half a metre long, the women began to transplant them on their farms, and in school and church compounds. Soon the women began to transform their environment, and their lives, for the better.


4.      A Pan African Green Belt Network was established in 1986. Today, the Green Belt Movement is one of the world’s most successful grassroots programs to combine community development and environmental protection. The movement helps poor people gain confidence and understand that planting trees will conserve the environment and improve their lives in the future. By 2005, the movement had planted more than 20 million trees, established 4500 nurseries, and involved 80,000 women in planting seedlings, and distributing and caring for the trees.


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