Whoever you are, wherever you live, you need access to clean water. And yet, for an increasing number of people, access to drinking water is not a given.
This is not just a consequence of climate change (and cows). Poor land management is often to blame, too. After Kenya was colonized, for instance, ancient forests gradually gave way to large monocultures and non-native timber plantations.
Industrial tree plantations of one and the same species are a cheap way to produce timber, but bad news for biodiversity. They simply don't provide the necessary range of food, shelter, and nutrients for life to thrive in all its diversity.
They are also bad news for delicate ecosystems. When you plant European or Australian trees in sub-Saharan Africa, you're not just displacing native tree species. You also risk depleting water levels, since these imported species evolved in areas with higher rainfall, and consequently absorb more water.
This is exactly what happened to 80-year-old Kiberenge Muraya, a farmer we met in Kenya. When he was a child, his forest was relatively intact, and his river provided enough water for everyone. But when the native, diverse forest was replaced by a pine tree monoculture, the river shrank. The pine trees, which are well adapted to colder and wetter climates, soaked up too much water.
In Kenya, Ecosia works with the Green Belt Movement. It was founded by Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her political activism and reforestation work. Your searches are planting trees according to Prof. Maathai’s method, i.e. by working with local communities to plant native trees around critical water sources, preventing erosion, and increasing both the quantity and the quality of the water.
Kiberenge knows why this matters. Watch the video above to listen to his story.