Giving Compass’ Take:
• Michele Sullivan explains how the Caterpillar Foundation works to prioritize healthy rivers around the world to improve community health and boost economic development.
• How can other funders learn from the work of the Caterpillar Foundation? What bodies of water could your community benefit from improving?
At the Caterpillar Foundation, we have worked closely with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for more than 20 years to help fund the restoration of rivers and wetlands, and I have seen first-hand that, as the health of rivers and wetlands improves, so do the lives of the people who live along them.
As part of our Great Rivers Partnership with TNC, we have helped fund improvements to some of the world’s most impressive rivers – the Mississippi and Colorado rivers in the U.S., the Magdalena River in Colombia and the Yangtze River in China – witnessing the incredible transformation not only of the natural areas, but of the communities surrounding them.
With the Foundation’s support, TNC has worked to map property boundaries and identify deforestation in the Amazon; implemented the first fish-monitoring system in China, where 400 million people depend on the Yangtze River for their jobs, their food and vital economic development; and helped Kenyan farmers upriver from Nairobi learn to conserve water, soil and nutrients.
In particular, TNC’s work in Kenya is a great example of the transcendent impact that results from nature conservation. The Tana River is the longest river in Kenya, flowing from the Aberdare mountains north of Nairobi to the Indian Ocean. It supplies 95 percent of the water used by more than 9 million people in and around Nairobi, as well as 70 percent of the country’s hydropower. Over the past few decades, farming exploded in the Upper Tana, which led to highly vulnerable and unprotected soil. During the rainy seasons, soil would wash into the rivers causing massive amounts of sediment to clog up reservoirs, increasing the price of water treatment, disrupting water services and reducing land quality and productivity for farmers. Over time, accelerating population growth along the river only increased the demand for food, electricity and especially water, which has grown by 250 percent since 2004.
After just a few years of TNC’s work, the results have already demonstrated the importance of thoughtful intervention through conservation, and its broader impact on the surrounding communities.
Read the full article about prioritizing healthy rivers by Michele Sullivan at News Deeply.
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