"The Green Belt Movement (GBM) was founded by Professor Wangari Maathai in 1977 as an offshoot of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK) to respond to the needs of rural Kenyan women who reported that their streams were drying up, their food supply was less secure, and they had to walk further and further to get firewood for fuel and fencing. GBM encouraged the women to work together to grow seedlings and plant trees to bind the soil, store rainwater, provide food and firewood, and receive a small monetary token for their work."
The Mission is " for better environmental management, community empowerment, and livelihood improvement using tree-planting as an entry point."
From Wangari Maathai's Nobel Lecture after receiving the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize:
"Using trees as a symbol of peace is in keeping
with a widespread African tradition. For example, the elders of
the Kikuyu carried a staff from the thigi tree that, when
placed between two disputing sides, caused them to stop fighting
and seek reconciliation. Many communities in Africa have these
As I conclude I reflect on my childhood experience when I would visit a stream next to our home
to fetch water for my mother. I would drink water straight from the stream. Playing among the
arrowroot leaves I tried in vain to pick up the strands of frogs’ eggs, believing they were beads.
But every time I put my little fingers under them they would break. Later, I saw thousands of
tadpoles: black, energetic and wriggling through the clear water against the background of the
brown earth. This is the world I inherited from my parents.
Today, over 50 years later, the stream has dried up, women walk long distances for water, which
is not always clean, and children will never know what they have lost. The challenge is to restore
the home of the tadpoles and give back to our children a world of beauty and wonder."