Founded in 1977 by the Late Professor Wangari Maathai, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) is a grassroots non-governmental organization that has worked, primarily with women in environmental conservation and community empowerment in Kenya for over 30 years. GBM employs a holistic approach to development that addresses basic needs and challenges that communities identify as priority. GBM’s work has focused on conserving the environment by empowering grassroots communities and building their capacity to restore the environment, promote good governance, and develop climate resilience and sustainable livelihoods. To date, over 51 million trees have been planted and hundreds of thousands of women empowered.
Underpinning GBM’s Theory of Change has been a fundamental understanding that when people understand the linkages between their actions and their livelihood situations (poverty, water scarcity, soil loss and food insecurity) they are more likely to muster their energies and take action for change. GBM engages communities through its unique watershed-based 10-step tree planting procedure, and mobilizes individuals to take action and improve their livelihoods and watershed management. GBM takes community through a process of Civic, Empowerment and Environmental Education (CEE) that provides a strong sense of self-knowledge and realization which has enabled them to embrace conscious pursuit for peaceful co-existence and a people driven socio-political-economic development. Through this process, they learn to make linkages between the challenges they face and environmental degradation. This leads to community-led action and a commitment to safeguard natural resources.