With Earth’s growing population and finite resources, all of us should be concerned about maintaining the livability of our home planet. However, there is evidence that people who have to struggle daily to put food on the table and live where clean water cannot be taken for granted have little time and ways to contribute. It is difficult to think of concern for Earth’s future as a luxury. Some organizations have found means to address both poverty and the environment.
I was amazed at the Nature Conservancy’s Fall 2019 magazine’s descriptions of projects they are undertaking. They are inventive and long lasting. They’ve been known for buying land for parks and wildlife preserves, but they do much more.
The city of Nairobi only has access to 70% of the water that its residents need. Their water comes from the Tana River, and runoff from the hillside farms along the river make filtering and purifying the water difficult and expensive. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) established a water fund, which helped farmers plant thickets of bamboo along the banks of streams that flow into the Tana, which traps the silt. The fund also paid for 70% of the cost for water pans farmers could install at the tops of their hills that trapped water during heavy rains for use for irrigation during the dry season. Farmers benefited by being able to raise garden vegetables, which garner higher prices at that time of year. Win-win.
Another of TNC’s projects is called Blue Bonds for Conservation. It involves buying back sovereign debt at a discount and restructuring the debt to save countries money. In return the countries pledge to use at least 30% of their savings on protecting the countries’ marine waters. Seychelles was the first project. Another win-win.
A third project involves rebuilding a reef near Adelaide, Australia. Overfishing had wiped out a once thriving home for marine life. Oysters filter water, which once made the area desirable for fish. Along with a team of marine biologists TNC replanted oysters on 50 acres and one year into the project, native species are returning to the reef. If this continues, sustainable fishing can boost the local economy.
It appears if we take care of the earth, it will take care of us.