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The environmental NGO Friends of the Earth is bringing out a book with a provocative title: Why Women Will Save the Planet. It is a collection of articles and interviews from 29 leading environmentalists and feminists, meant as a “rallying call” to environmental campaigning groups to no longer neglect women’s empowerment in their work.

Friends of the Earth says, the book shall encourage the environmental and women’s movement to join forces, “because social justice and environmental sustainability are two sides of the same coin”.The book comes out two weeks before the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum on 5-6 December, the biggest event on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris. One of the authors, Wanjira Mathai of the Green Belt Movement, will be a speaker at the GLF. In the book she writes about women as drivers of forest restoration to combat climate change. At the Global Landscapes Forum, she joins leading African politicians in presenting a program to restore 100 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes in Africa by 2030.The book could also be an inspiration for the high-level discussion forum.

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Published: December 6, 2015, 9:30 am(AP) — Tree by tree, more than a dozen African governments pledged to restore the continent’s natural forests at the United Nations climate talks on Sunday.

The earth has lost more than half its forests over the course of human history, according to the World Resources Institute. The deforestation of the world’s tropical forests has contributed to climate change by producing up to 15 percent of global carbon emissions, the organization said.

The AFR100 initiative is a pledge by African nations to restore 100 million hectares (about 386,000 square miles) of forest by 2030, according to the organization.

“As the world forges a climate agreement in Paris, African countries — which bear the least historic responsibility for climate change — are showing leadership with ambitious pledges to restore land,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute.

Wanjira Mathai, daughter of the late Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, described the AFR100 forest restoration project as unprecedented.

“I have seen restoration in communities both large and small across Africa, but the promise of a continent-wide movement is truly inspiring,” said Mathai, chairwoman of the Green Belt Movement founded by her mother. “Restoring landscapes will empower and enrich rural communities while providing downstream benefits to those in cities. Everybody wins. ”

During the Global Landscapes Forum at the U.N. climate talks, the World Bank and the German government and other partners, set aside more than $1 billion in development funding and $540 million in private funding for the African reforestation.

More than a dozen African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda, have pledged millions of acres to the project. West African nations along the Sahara desert have also pledged to plant more trees to stop the ever encroaching desert from destroying more arable land.

“Restoring our landscapes brings prosperity, security and opportunity,” said Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Natural Resources. “With forest landscape restoration we’ve seen agricultural yields rise and farmers in our rural communities diversify their livelihoods and improve their well-being. Forest landscape restoration is not just an environmental strategy, it is an economic and social development strategy as well.”

Among the pledging countries is Madagascar, where the island forests are home to some of the world’s most unique plants and animals, all under threat from deforestation. Satellite images of the island show forests that have been slashed and burned, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

To astronauts observing from space, Madagascar seems like an island bleeding into the ocean as its rich red soil, eroded by decades of unregulated logging, runs into the ocean, leaving behind cratered land unfit for farming, according to the foundation.

Some of the countries that are home to the Congo Basin, which conservationists call the earth’s second set of lungs, after the Amazon Basin, have also signed up to the project. The Democratic Republic of Congo has pledged 8 million hectares (20 million acres) to the restoration project.

But these pledges may face challenges from the global timber industry, exacerbated by illegal logging, which is the biggest cause of deforestation, according to environmental protection group Greenpeace. Despite laws to prevent this, it is has never been easier to illegally chop down trees in the Congo Basin, the group said.

Corruption in the Congo Basin region has undermined reforms to the timber industry, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where protected wildlife areas are increasingly disturbed, according to a Greenpeace report published earlier this year.

If this initiative succeeds, it would improve the lives of people living around forests and to the ecosystem as a whole, said Victorine Che Thoener, leader of Greenpeace’s Congo Basin project.

“But many of these African countries make these pledges in the hope that they will receive funding,” said Che Thoener, who is based in Cameroon, one of the Congo Basin countries that have signed the pledge. “There’s a lot of talk, but not a lot of action on the ground.”

Similar conservation efforts have failed because they do not include the right training and tools to monitor the progress, said Che Thoener.

Acknowledging these challenges, the World Research Institute is working on a monitoring project that includes satellite and ground-level observation, said Sean De Witt, director of the organizations global restoration initiative.

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Othaya women trained on using clean solar energy

????????????????????????????????????An official of wPOWER Hub organisation demonstrates how to use a solar lantern at Gatugi trading centre in Othaya, Nyeri County recently. [Photo: Joseph Mukubwa]


A group of about 50 women in Othaya, Nyeri County have been trained on sustainable clean energy, thanks to a new initiative by wPOWER Hub, Wangari Maathai Institute.

According to Prof Kiama Gitahi, Director Wangari Maathai Institute, while speaking during the three- day training programme on sustainable clean energy entrepreneurship held at Gatugi township recently, the training was meant to empower women on clean energy issues.

Gitahi urged participants to safeguard their environment and strive to unlock their potential as sustainable natural resource managers.

“These series of trainings form part of wPOWER Hub activities towards the Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewable (“wPOWER”) project that was launched by the US State Department in January 2013,” Gitahi said.

The wPOWER Hub focuses on empowering women’s groups by equipping them with the skills and tools they need to bring about community transformation in clean energy, environmental stewardship and livelihood improvement.


According to Alice Wanjiru, a participant, Kenyans in rural areas are embracing alternative clean energy innovations as the hope of getting electricity fades away due to the high cost.

“Inefficient lighting and cooking contribute to climate change through increased carbon emissions, and the degradation of natural resources such as trees which are cut to provide firewood for cooking while kerosene is used to provide light,” said Wangui who is also a trainer.

The participants were also given an opportunity to buy and sell at a profit the solar lamps and energy cooking jikos.

According to Gitahi, by 2050 one-third of the world’s energy will need to come from solar, wind and other renewable resources, hence renewable need to play a bigger role today more than tomorrow.

wPOWER aims to empower more than 8,000 women clean energy entrepreneurs across East Africa, Nigeria and India who will deliver clean energy access to more than 3.5 million people over the next three years.

wPOWER Hub at the Wangari Maathai Institute is working together with the Green Belt Movement, MacArthur Foundation, Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves, CARE International, Solar Sister, Women for Women International and the Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) India, to empower women energy entrepreneurs across Africa and Africa.

DorothyOthaya women trained on using clean solar energy
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wPOWER Hub empowers women in central Kenya,on clean energy issues

Today,forms the beginning of a three day training program on sustainable clean energy entrepreneurship in Othaya,Nyeri County.The training,organised by wPOWER Hub,Wangari Maathai Institute focuses on empowering more than 40 women from various women groups in the county,by equipping them with the skills and tools they need to bring about, as Wangari Maathai hoped, community transformation in clean energy, environmental stewardship and livelihood improvement.

Speaking during the opening ceremony,Prof.Kiama Gitahi,Director Wangari Maathai Institute,urged participants to safeguard their environment and strive to unlock their potential as sustainable natural resource managers.

IMG_2113Prof.Kiama Gitahi,officiates the opening ceremony at the wPOWER Hub Community training in Nyeri

IMG_2160 A participant is marveled after watching the film ‘Taking root the vision of Wangari Maathai’.

Nyeri county is among other counties that the wPOWER Hub will be visiting to train women on clean energy issues.These series of trainings forms part of wPOWER Hub activities towards the Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables (“wPOWER”) project that was launched by the US State department in January 2013.

wPOWER aims to empower more than 8,000 women clean energy entrepreneurs across East Africa, Nigeria and India who will deliver clean energy access to more than 3.5 million people over the next three years.



DorothywPOWER Hub empowers women in central Kenya,on clean energy issues
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South-South tech transfer could increase energy access

By Gilbert Nakweya

[NAIROBI] Strengthening South-South technology transfer and bridging the gap between policy and research could help Sub-Saharan Africa increase access to clean energy, a workshop has heard.

Experts at Accelerating Clean Energy Access in Africa held in Kenya early this month (9-10 July)said that Sub-Saharan Africa has a huge energy gap, but technologies and innovations exist to help addressthe challenge.

Cosmas Ochieng’, the executive director of Kenyan-based African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), said: “Most African countries may not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without adequate access to clean energy.”

“We need to enhance South-South partnerships …to accelerate energy access.”

Janakaraj Murali, The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI)

He added that lack of access to clean energy could have been the reason why most Millennium Development Goalshave not been achieved across the continent.

The workshop was convened by ACTS and Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoA-REC&N) in partnership with The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) headquartered in India.

At the workshop, research scientists, policymakers and members of the private sector discussed the opportunities, benefits, and challenges of South-South technology transfer, drawing from TERI-ACTS-HoA-REC&N partnership.

The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID)sponsored the project which was launched in 2011 and piloted in Kenya and Ethiopia to scale up the use of clean cooking and energy solutions for poor households in Africa.

Araya Asfaw, the executive director HoA-REC&N,which has its headquarters in Ethiopia, said that the continent needs to share knowledge and lessons on successful technologies and piloted models for clean energy access. “We need transformational change to clean energy access that can bring about sustainability,” Asfaw noted.

Faith Adongo, a senior renewable energy officer from Kenya’s Ministry of Energy, called on scientists and researchers to engage governments more. She noted that governments are doing a lot that goes unnoticed and that could be some of the reasons why many innovations in the energy sector are untapped.

“We need to enhance South-South partnerships … to accelerate energy access,” said Janakaraj Murali, a senior research fellow working with TERI.

Murali explained toSciDev.Net that South-South technology transfer is less costly and gives countries the opportunity to share lessons on policy and technology in a similar context.

He revealed that the partnership has enhanced capacity building and has helped addressaffordability, and advanced adoption of clean energy technologies in Kenya and Ethiopia.

But Kiama Gitahi, the director of Kenya-based University of Nairobi’s Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies, noted that the continent is stagnating in access to clean energy because universities and other institutions of higher education are not spearheading research and development to transform the energy sector.

“Energy cuts across many sectors like public health and the environment,” Gitahi observed. “Universities must give leadership by creating centres of excellence in clean energy and entrepreneurship.”

He added that the continent needs education for sustainable development because universities can only promoteresearch and development after capacity building.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africadesk.


This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.

DorothySouth-South tech transfer could increase energy access
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Bamboo Biomass: An Overlooked Energy Resource

By wPOWER Hub Communications Globally, at least three billion people rely on solid fuels for cooking, causing serious environmental and health impacts that disproportionately affect women and children.

UN statistics indicate that in Kenya, at least 14,300 women die every year from inhaling the gases.

Burning these fuels on rudimentary stoves or three-stone fires creates a dangerous cocktail of pollutants that can kill.

Bamboo biomass energy has great potential to be an alternative for fossil fuel. It can be processed in various ways (thermal or biochemical conversion) to produce different energy products (charcoal, syngas and biofuels), which can be substitutions for existing fossil fuel products.

The Green Belt Movement in partnership with Waterstone (Norway) has established a bamboo biomass and entrepreneurship project aimed at promoting the planting of indigenous bamboo for: conservation, climate mitigation benefits, fuel source (firewood and charcoal) and economic opportunities through green businesses for and by local communities.

Speaking during the Sustainable Tree- Based Bio energy in Sub- Saharan Africa Workshop at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Samuel Mungai, a Project Officer at the Green Belt Movement said that ‘The opportunity for Bamboo as a source of biomass energy is immense and the biomass benefits of bamboo are impressive ‘.

IMG_0657Samuel Mungai(3rd from right) speaking during the Tree-Based Bioenergy Workshop at the World Agroforestry Centre

The three-day workshop brought together policy makers from Africa and experts from around the world to draft an agenda that would influence energy planning across Africa to include firewood and charcoal in policies and plans.

Click here for the Workshop Findings.

GBM (Green Belt Movement) has allocated 5 acres of land for a pilot, in Murang’a, north of Nairobi in Kenya for the Bamboo Pilot Project. The organization has also trained local women in Maragua on how to make small bamboo products.

BambooWomen display some of the products they make from Bamboo

Bamboo products are used in their homes as well as for sale to community members. The products include: Simple sheds, Toilet structure, Sugar dishes, Kitchen utensils holders. Mashing stick (mwiko), Scooping spoon, Dinner spoons, folks, Soup spoons and teaspoons.

Facts about Bamboo

  • Bamboo absorbs Carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into the atmosphere 3 to 4 times higher than many other trees.
  • One bamboo tree generates plenty of natural oxygen sufficient for more than one human being’s daily requirement
  • Every part of the bamboo is used to make varieties of products.
  • Bamboo can replace the wood for all applications such as paper, flooring, furniture, charcoal, etc.
  • Bamboo effectively cleans the water pollution of the septic tank discharge and factories effluent by its natural affinity for nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metals.
  • Bamboo enriches the soil naturally and prevents soil erosion.


DorothyBamboo Biomass: An Overlooked Energy Resource
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wPOWER Hub at the Wangari Maathai Institute Promotes the Role of Women in Africa, in Clean Energy Solutions

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New Delhi| April 16th 2015

By wPOWER Hub Communications : The wPOWER Hub at the Wangari Maathai Institute, University of Nairobi, led an African Delegation, comprising 24 members from Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania to attend and participate at the wPOWER Global Partnership Forum 2015, at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on April 16th – 17th.

The forum, jointly organized by The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) was held to create dialogue on the pivotal role played by women in last‐mile distribution of clean energy technologies.

Ms. Wanjira Mathai, Director of the wPOWER Hub, & Chair of the Green Belt Movement (GBM) spoke during the opening plenary and participated in a panel discussion on Leveraging Women’s Leadership & Networks for Inclusive & Sustainable Development. Prof. Kiama Gitahi, Director of the Wangari Maathai Institute, led discussions on – Forging Partnerships and the Role of Institutional stakeholders in strengthening women entrepreneurs, their capacities and networks through multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Other speakers who participated in the forum included Mr. John Beed (USAID Mission Director, India), Ms. Varshajoshi (I.A.S, Joint Secretary (MNRE) Government of India), Ms. Randi Davis (Director, Gender Team, UNDP), Ms. Prema Gopalan (Director, SSP), Ms. Sudha Setty (Country Representative in India for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves) and grassroots women entrepreneurs from Africa and India.

Key Highlights: Day 1

The forum begun with dialogues, deliberations, sharing of experiences and perspectives from high-level experts ranging from policy makers, corporates to grass root clean energy women entrepreneurs on women empowerment, entrepreneurship and reaching clean energy solutions. The delegation also witnessed the Launch of the wPOWER: Connecting the dots – Resource Guide, a knowledge product highlighting the interactive and key elements of the wPOWER project.

1Launch of the wPOWER: Connecting the dots, resource guide. Extreme right, MS Wanjira Mathai, Director wPOWER Hub, Ms. Randi Davis, Director, Gender team, UNDP, Mr., John Beed, Mission Director, USAID India, Ms Varsha Joshi, Joint Secretary Govt of India, Ms.Prema Gopalan, Executive Director Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) and Ms.Trishala Dangre, Sakhi, wPOWER India


Grass root women entrepreneurs from both India and Africa shared their entrepreneurship experiences and insights from their respective fields of operation.

22nd to left Mary Onoja, Care Nigeria, Lillian Muchungi, Green Belt Movement, and inset grass root women entrepreneurs.


Key Highlights: Day 2

The second day of the forum, saw key issues being discussed, among them, creation of partnerships among technology developers, the private sector and women entrepreneurs. Leading in the panelist was the Director, Wangari Maathai Institute, Prof.Kiama Gitahi who emphasized the need to bridge the access and awareness gap for clean energy

, solutions through forging partnerships with key institutions and technology developers.


2nd from left, Prof Kiama Gitahi, Director, Wangari Maathai Institute, Right, Mr.Gautam Morey, CEO Sofomo Embeded Solutions, Left, Atul Mittal.

Prof.Kiama emphasized the need to collaborate and make investments in last mile women networks.

Speaking during the final session of the forum, wPOWER Hub director Wanjira Mathai discussed strategies to advance and scale up the grass roots women’s networks as demonstrated through the wPOWER initiative. Insights of how women networks can effectively be engaged in creating inclusive and sustainable development agenda were also shared.

4Left, Lillian Muchungi, Community Mobilization officer, Green Belt Movement, Godavari Dange, President, Sakhi Federation, Renuka Kumar, MS Wanjira Mathai, Director wPOWER Hub, Chetna Sinha, Founder, Mann Deshi Foundation, MS Randi Davis, Director Gender Team, UNDP, Newyork

 The final session brought both national and international representatives of women’s movements to highlight and share their insights on the potential role of women in inclusive and sustainable development.

The closing plenary session saw the high level representatives from Government of India, USAID India, UNDP India and the Kenya Representatives, agreeing unanimously on the wPOWER global agenda to catalyze the “women in renewable energy” movement through innovative market-based partnership models, affordable innovations and improved access to technology, finance and markets.

The Department of State, together with parallel support from the MacArthur Foundation, financed the creation of a wPOWER Hub at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies (WMI), founded by the late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

wPOWER aims to empower more than 8,000 women clean energy entrepreneurs across East Africa, Nigeria and India who will deliver clean energy access to more than 3.5 million people over the next three years.

Click here for the wPOWER Global Partnership Report




DorothywPOWER Hub at the Wangari Maathai Institute Promotes the Role of Women in Africa, in Clean Energy Solutions
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