Executive Insights
Witnessing Transformation in Kenya

Sara Myers, WMO2H Executive Director
Published on the 30th of April, 2024
As we turn the page on April, and with it, Earth Month, I find myself in deep reflection of my trip to Kenya last month. These types of trips - the ones that pull you from your day-to-day and push you to perceive and experience the world in a new, modulated way - tend to linger with you far longer than most.

I find myself stopping to pause time again on the insights I gained being back there. For me, there’s one word I keep coming back to when I reflect on this year’s trip: transformation. It brings to mind an academic article I recently read, titled “Transformation is about Thoughtful Evolution, Not Chaotic Invasion”.

And it's true. While access to clean water can be immediate, the ripple effect it has on communities - and our shared world - evolves for decades and across generations.

That’s just what I witnessed on my recent trip. The once barren landscapes were now beginning to flourish into vibrant ecosystems of lush trees, diverse crops, and butterflies fluttering among the varying shades of green. This transformation is an eyewitness testament to our ongoing commitment to climate and reminded me of the change that emerges when communities embrace, and lead, sustainable practices.
During my eight days in Kenya, I was reunited with a young girl from the Masai Mara, who I had the absolute pleasure of meeting for the first time last year. Seeing her again, with her eyes shining so brightly, I couldn’t help but pause to visualize how her future will look different - and brighter - knowing that she will never have to spend time out of school in search of water.

This is time her mother, and her mother’s mother, and her many ancestors before them had no choice but to spend on grueling water walks. For this little girl, this generational cycle that keeps girls and women out of school, out of the workforce, and in turn, from building lives of their own choosing, has been forever changed. I imagine myself returning to her community for years to come, having the great honor of witnessing just how she will choose her life to evolve.
We saw these evolutions at different stages and on different scales as we visited and met with four vastly different communities who are leading clean water and regenerative agriculture projects. From new community partners of just two years, to partnerships spanning nearly a decade, the common thread was clear: sustainable development is not chaotic nor invasive. Rather, it is thoughtful, nuanced, methodical, and one that takes time.

Development must also stem from within communities, where solutions to complex issues like climate change, water scarcity, and food insecurity, are developed and led by the communities themselves in order for them to take flight.

Although Earth Month is over, let us all carry the lessons learned from Kenya and other corners of the world. Let’s recognize that through community-led development, every action we take has the potential to create transformational change in this fight for a better world. Because we're not just planting trees, we're planting brighter, bolder futures.