Sunday, 4 December 2011

end of week one. Greenbelt Movement

As the negotiations carry on this week and Canada begins to infuriate most people (they have threatened to pull out of the Kyoto protocol) everything becomes more and more complicated. Although all the bodies (COP, Subsidiary Body, LCA etc) all work so hard and have long days it doesnt seem like 2 weeks is going to be long enough. Hopefully there are huge break-throughs this week. I don't think I have written it yet- but well done to the ethekwini municipality, all in all they have done/are doing a sterling job! I went for a run yesterday at the beachfront and could not have seen more policemen in one place and streetcleaners, lots of climate change posters and information and best of all so many happy durban local running and pushing prams. Go Durban! Hopefully is persists even once COP is over.

Unfortunately I didnt get to go to many side events on Friday ( I only went to one) because I was on duty lots because I was helping a friend out. The one I did go to was hosted by Greenbelt and was so interesting. A local village lady from Uganda called Constance, spoke so well and described all the changes to the village in the last 10 years due to climate change. Most women in Africa are the food providers, water collectors and child carers whilst men go off to urban areas or work away from the house during the day. This means that women will be mostly affected by climate change. As temperatures increase and rainfall changes, agriculture for these village women  because exceedingly difficult and they have to walk further and further distances for water. It is at this local level that the impacts of climate change will be really felt and because it is the women who are the subsistence farmers in most parts of Africa, there situation is dire.

Greenbelt is one organisation which helps local communities generate income by including them in tree planting projects. It also trains and educates the grassroot communities about the value of their forests and all the ecological services forests offer. They prevent soil erosion and allow ground water capture. Greenbelt also creates income by training the women in bee keeping, to make pottery, weave baskets and farm indigenous crops which will be more resilient to changing climate.

There are many challenges associated with reforestation such as wildlife and pastoral grazers whose cattle eat the new seedlings. Fires are also a challenge which the communities have to try prevent. Although any tree planting project is such a long-term project, if the communities are involved in the project from the beginning it can be very successful, as it was on Mount Kenya.

It is important that I mention a major loss to the Greenbelt Movement community. Wangari Maathai started the Greenbelt Movement in 1977 and was a remarkable woman and role model. She was an advocate for better management of natural resources and for sustainability, equity, and justice. Prof Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She passed away in Septemeber this year from cancer. It is a great loss to all because she was a woman who founght for women in africa.

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