Synopses & Reviews
Africa's future is the subject of fierce debate, with the media full of warnings about environmental and economic collapse. Development workers continue to create supposed solutions to the problems they see, with little effect and much controversy. While these outsiders haggle over projections and prophecies, Africans are working on a variety of small, grassroots projects that may change the course of their future.
The Green Belt Movement is an internationally acclaimed tree-planting movement founded by Kenyans and run by and for Kenyans. The organization, which has planted millions of trees throughout East Africa in order to provide sources of fuel, food and a way to stop soil erosion and environmental degradation, is one example of an indigenous movement working to influence Africa's future. Many of its workers are women.
In The Green Belt Movement, founder Wangari Maathai tells its story: why it started, how it operates, and where it is going. She includes the philosophy behind it, its challenges and objectives, and the specific steps involved in starting a similar grassroots environmental and social justice organization. The Green Belt Movement is the inspiring story of people working at the grassroots level to improve their environment and their country. Their story offers ideas about a new and hopeful future for Africa and the rest of the world.
"In October 2004, environmental activist Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor that has sparked the publication of this expanded edition of her slim treatise, first published in 1985 and then revised in 2003. As founder of Kenya's Green Belt Movement, a grassroots organization that encourages tree planting and other environmental initiatives, Maathai clashed often with the former Kenyan government but, in 2002, she was elected to the country's Parliament and became assistant minister for the environment. This book begins with a dry account of the Green Belt Movement's 20-year history, which has been filled with setbacks and successes that are undoubtedly fascinating, but Maathai hurries by them with bland, cut-and-dry statements ('Unfortunately, very few people responded'; 'Save the Land Harambee began to spread quickly'). The second half of the book reads like an extended grant proposal, enumerating goals and projects, explaining why ideas are worthwhile and outlining step-by-step processes that similar groups can follow. Many sections are little more than laundry lists of activities and achievements that barely hint at the group's struggles against countless obstacles, particularly corruption and indifference. The material added to this edition seems slight: the Nobel committee's statement on Maathai, her acceptance speech, a new preface and an interview she did with the Worldwatch Institute, where at last some of her passion shines through. Many Westerners didn't recognize Maathai's name when she won the Nobel and, while this description of the Green Belt Movement's admirable past is enlightening, it reads like a presentation Maathai might make to potential donors." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)