Dell: Powering the Green Belt Movement

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As you know, we at Dell want to provide technology and expertise that gives people the power to do more. On the sustainability team, we work to minimize the environmental impact of our business operations, but we also want to help our customers successfully leverage technology to achieve more sustainable outcomes in the pursuit of their missions. I’m posting this on behalf of Stephen Mills, U.S. Director of the Green Belt Movement, and Peter Ndunda, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist at the Green Belt Movement. Below, they share their story of how technology is aiding their conservation work.

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For 35 years the Green Belt Movement (GBM) has been empowering women and communities in rural Kenya to develop a greener and cleaner world while improving their livelihoods. Professor Wangari Maathai, an extraordinary woman who in 2004 received the Nobel Peace Prize for her profound work, started the movement by promoting an understanding of the relationship between a healthy environment and civically engaged communities.

With the help of volunteer women, the Green Belt Movement began planting trees. They wanted to address interwoven issues of food security, fuel wood shortages, soil erosion, clean water and poverty. The incredible work of the grassroots movement has resulted in more than 50 million newly planted trees in Kenya.

The movement’s work now has far more reaching and deeper roots. To monitor and scale our activities, GBM has chosen Dell PowerEdge technology to power our efforts — making it possible to develop geographic information systems (GIS) with capacity to support planning and monitoring of complex forest management projects and programs. The servers support an extensive database of tree nurseries and planting, and they enable the use of GIS tools to identify areas of deforestation that need immediate restoration.

The technology has also enabled GBM to begin participating in the development of the first pilot community-based climate change mitigation and adaptation project in Kenya. We have initiated a strategic program in Kenya with the goal of enhancing the ecological functions of the Aberdares, Mt. Kenya and the Mau forest ecosystems. When healthier, these ecosystems will provide essential services to the surrounding communities – mainly through increased precipitation and biodiversity protection. With the enhancement of our IT capabilities, GBM can carry out spatial analysis on ecological variables using high-resolution imagery. This helps identify critical watersheds in the country and helps prioritize those highly threatened and in greatest need of restoration.

The Green Belt Movement has had a tremendous impact in Kenya. Our work has not only helped reforest degraded land, but it has restored the dignity of many families in despair. We know that Dell is proud of the work GBM has done and is happy to have powered the technology that’s creating a stronger environment and more vibrant communities.

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If you’d like to get involved, please visit greenbeltmovement.org.

Stephen Mills joined the Green Belt Movement in June 2011 and is responsible for managing partnership development, fundraising, policy advocacy and educational efforts for the Green Belt Movement and the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies efforts throughout North America.

Peter Ndunda is the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Specialist at the Green Belt Movement. He directs the activities of the GIS lab at GBM to support the re-afforestation, climate change and community development efforts in Kenya.

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