Watersheds are invaluable for local communities as well as for the downstream human and wildlife populations whose habitats, villages and cities rely on them as vital sources of water. Yet today watershed quality is declining around the world due to deforestation, overgrazing, overexploitation and increased population pressure. The degradation of vital watersheds stems from climatic changes as well as improper natural resource management and those most impacted are the women who disproportionately rely on the key food, energy and water resources provided by watershed ecosystems.
As the primary users of the diverse resources surrounding watersheds, women are also potential stewards of watershed preservation and renewal. Indeed, where women have been engaged, there has been an enormous positive impact on the quality of watershed environments and communities. Notably, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Wangari Maathai, founder of the Greenbelt Movement, recognized this potential and mobilized women to plant trees and restore vital watersheds. The result was an increase in food security for communities as well as the preservation of vital ecosystems and habitats.
New Course is proud to work with the Greenbelt Movement and other local partners around the world to enable women to strengthen watersheds while securing resilient livelihoods for themselves and their communities. We recognize that investing in women’s capacity for watershed management has massive potential to not only to improve watershed sustainability, but also to benefit entire communities. When women are engaged and their access to resources is improved, the results often provide not only improved environmental conditions, but also greater economic development, increased agricultural yields, as well as increased education rates.