Green Belt Movement Partnership Expands

"TNC is a true friend to Green Belt Movement, and we now have the tools and the confidence to truly make a difference. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

Professor Karanja
Executive Director, Green Belt Movement

by Adam Whelchel

I’ve recently returned from Kenya and one of the most challenging and rewarding expeditions I have had the pleasure to lead for the Conservancy. For two weeks, Holly Drinkuth (director of outreach programs for TNC’s Connecticut Chapter) and I worked with our partner the Green Belt Movement, a group I and the Conservancy have been working with for several years.

Although there was sufficient planning for the trip, I have learned that when one does work in Africa, too much planning can be a detriment – particularly if you try to stick to a pre-determined schedule and approach. Rather, the best work is guided purely by intuition and innovation right there on the spot in the moment.

Each and every day of the nine-day workshop required great agility to accommodate the twists and turns that arose during discussions. Together, we

  • Collected, organized and integrated  GIS map data
  • Developed organization-wide criteria to rank and prioritize watersheds across Kenya
  • Defined and set objectives
  • Identified high-priority watersheds to concentrate and focus future work
  • Developed priority action sites within watersheds
  • Initiated a watershed management plan with vision, marketing statement, objectives and strategies
  • Exported the watershed management planning process across GBM’s larger team operating across Kenya. 

It was a great deal of work in a short period that will ultimately help GBM secure funding and propel their organization to greater conservation heights. This most recent time with GBM was particularly gratifying for me in that it represents the culmination of a project I started more than two years ago. 

Sending us home with a full heart were the handshakes and gleaming eyes of the more than 40 participants who told me we had really made a difference in their lives, the lives of the women’s groups they empower, and for the forests and rivers of Kenya they strive to restore

The executive director, Professor Karanja, said it well at a closing thank-you party: “TNC is a true friend to Green Belt Movement, and we now have the tools and the confidence to truly make a difference. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

It was clear from this expedition that the future forests and rivers of Kenya will require changing the “tragedy” to the “opportunity of the commons” through collective socio-economic empowerment sustained through progressive watershed management.


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