Margaret's Story

For many people, “nature” is a place to visit. Food comes from shops, and water from the tap. But for a large part of the population, the connection to nature and its services is more direct.
Margaret Wanjiru Mundia, a farmer in central Kenya, works the land every day to provide for her family. Her lifestyle may be quite different from a woman in Nairobi, but the two share the same basic needs. Indeed, these needs are shared by all, regardless of location or lifestyle, and we all look to nature to provide.
Margeret's Story is a Living Planet Report 2012 feature.
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Margaret Wanjiru Mundia, farmer, Upper Catchment, Lake Naivasha, Kenya
© WWF-Canon / Simon Rawles
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Simon Rawles
Margaret Wanjiru Mundia, farmer, Upper Catchment, Lake Naivasha, Kenya
© WWF-Canon / Simon Rawles

Energy to burn

Margaret occupies an interesting spot on the spectrum of energy use. Like 2.7 billion others, she cooks and heats water with wood and charcoal. She is planting trees on her property to ensure a source of fuel wood. Margaret also has a small solar panel that allows her to read her Bible and charge her mobile phone.

Could renewable energy leapfrog fossil fuels in developing nations, in the same way that mobile phones leapfrogged landlines, providing people like Margaret with energy security, a healthier smoke-free kitchen and reducing the pressure on nearby forests?
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Margaret Wanjiru Mundia with axe, Upper Catchment, Lake Naivasha, Kenya.
© WWF-Canon / Simon Rawles
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Simon Rawles
Margaret Wanjiru Mundia, farmer, Upper Catchment, Lake Naivasha, Kenya
© WWF-Canon / Simon Rawles

Give to get

As competition for land increases, is it inevitable that some win, while others lose? Or is it possible to create win-win solutions for people and nature? In April 2010, Margaret reoriented her farm and implemented basic conservation measures to improve soil and water retention. Her yields shot up, while run-off into the Turasha River dropped.

Her neighbours have taken note, and are making the same changes on their land. With increased productivity, the same farms are supporting more people. Margaret, a farmer with virtually no safety net, took a chance on change. It’s time for others to be as brave.
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Margaret Wanjiru Mundia, farmer, Upper Catchment, Lake Naivasha, Kenya
© WWF-Canon / Simon Rawles

Share and share alike

A visitor to Margaret’s farm will be given sweet, milky tea and a hearty helping of potatoes, beans and greens. Margaret will also share her time and her knowledge, and her warm laugh. Sharing enriches us. It feels good. While we understand this on a personal level, we tend to forget it when it comes time to make decisions about allocating resources. When we remember what counts, we will be able to count what matters.
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Margaret Wanjiru Mundia feeding chickens, farmer, Upper Catchment, Lake Naivasha, Kenya
© WWF-Canon / Simon Rawles

Enough for all

Not much goes to waste on Margaret’s farm. But for a rapidly urbanizing population, growing their own food may not be an option. Instead, consumers can learn about where food comes from and how it is produced. By asking questions and demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, each of us can help push retailers to improve efficiency along their supply chains. A series of better choices can contribute to the fight against hunger and poverty, while conserving nature.
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Margaret Wanjiru Mundia, farmer, Upper Catchment, Lake Naivasha, Kenya.
© WWF-Canon / Simon Rawles

Finding a new way

Once on a path, it can be difficult to see other routes. It can be tempting to think that the current way is the only way. But that’s rarely the case. Margaret has farmed her land for decades and raised two children, thinking their lives would be much like hers. But through her willingness to change, she has opened new opportunities for the next generation. With her new income, she will send her son to study computers. Our adaptability and creativity can put humanity on a better path.
 
  •  / ©: WWF

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