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How Wanjira Mathai plans to spend Sh13B prize money from Jeff Bezo's foundation

Prof Wangari Maathai's daughter Wanjira Mathai is following on her mother's footsteps.

World Resources Institute Vice President and Regional Director for Africa Wanjira Mathai

Wanjira Mathai, daughter of the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Prof Wangari Maathai, has announced plans to spearhead a new restoration project in Kenya and other African countries.

This after the World Resources Institute (WRI), where she serves as the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, received a significant funding boost.

The institute recently announced that it had received Ksh13 billion (USD 100 million) from the Bezos Earth Fund. The foundation was established by Jeff Bezos, the world's third richest person according to Forbes.


In a statement, WRI stated that the funds will be channeled towards the restoration of degraded landscapes in three African countries, including Kenya.

The project, known as Restore Local, aims to accelerate locally-led land restoration efforts in the Lake Kivu and Rusizi River Basin area in Congo and Rwanda, Ghana's Cocoa Belt, and Kenya's Greater Rift Valley.

"I am honored that Restore Local was selected for catalytic funding through 'The Audacious Project', which is a clear signal of confidence in locally-led action," said Wanjira Mathai, expressing her gratitude for the funding.

She added, "Restoration is one of the most powerful investments we can make on the planet, because restoring degraded land can simultaneously mitigate climate change and protect communities from its worst impacts. It can also restore land productivity, create jobs, and improve family incomes."


The project, in partnership with 33 African governments, aims to restore 100 million hectares of land by 2030, as part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), a partnership with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).

The funding from the Bezos Earth Fund, along with earlier contributions of Sh6 billion, brings the project closer to its fundraising target of USD 500 million for philanthropy.

WRI stated that the project will also enable direct investments in local community-based organizations and small and medium enterprises, aiming to accelerate restoration activities on the ground, deepen knowledge and skills, propose and implement supportive policies, and monitor their impact.

This approach emphasizes the importance of involving local communities and promoting sustainable practices.


Wanjira Maathai, who was recently named among Time's 100 Most Influential People, has been a prominent advocate for environmental conservation and sustainable development, following in the footsteps of her mother, Wangari Maathai. Prof. Wangari Maathai.

The late professor was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which encouraged tree planting in local environments and was responsible for over 30 million trees being planted in Africa.

She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.


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