Campaign manager: Meng Gen
Partner: Society, Entrepreneur & Ecology (SEE)
“We lack everything but budget,” said Meng Gen, who launched a Pride campaign in 2008 to reduce deforestation in the Alxa League region of western Mongolia. It’s perhaps not a statement one expects for a grass roots campaign working in a cluster of poor farming villages on the edge of China’s 8th largest desert.
Fortunately, Meng found a way to tie Pride goals with those of a national consortium of business leaders, SEE, which have committed resources and expertise to finding community-based solutions that will reduce sandstorms in the Alxa League region and improve living standards.
According to scientists, the Wulanbuhe Desert now has the fastest moving sand of all of China’s deserts. It currently pushes over 9 million tons of sediment into the Yellow River annually. Since the 1990s, sand storms have been increasingly affecting major cities across the country, damaging agriculture, transportation routes, and health of residents.
The saxaul tree, a spindly, coarse, low-growing tree with tiny leaves, which covers 80% of the Alxa League region, provides a natural defense against sand erosion from strong winds and sparse vegetation. Tragically, the saxaul forests of the region are rapidly being harvested for fuelwood to heat homes and cook food. Protecting the saxaul forest was a win-win for both Rare and SEE.
Meng’s Pride campaign is now working to reduce the amount of saxaul forest lost to fuelwood in four local communities by inspiring local adoption of fuel efficient stoves and heating systems (targeting 80% of the population by 2013). Success will mean adoption of more efficient cooking and heating technology across multiple communities at an affordable cost and a measurable increase in saxaul forest cover. Meng’s social marketing activities will be critical in mobilizing the right people to make an initial investment in the technology and champion it within the community. A successful campaign could provide a model for SEE to replicate across the region and country.
Progress on the campaign…
- SEE hired a strong technical partner, well-trained in the use of more efficient heating technology, which actively led the installation of eight demonstration stoves and heating systems at the four sites. The technical partner has also trained Meng in the use and benefits of each of the technologies and is in the process of training local community members to build the stoves themselves.
- After a month of testing the new equipment, community interviews revealed that users were pleased, commenting that they used noticeably less wood for cooking and heating and that the amount of smoke in the room was greatly reduced.
- More than 50 households have registered for one of the stove technologies to date.
”Pride has made many impressive achievements during this campaign. We have since begun to apply a similar methodology into our other projects and hope to collaborate with Rare after the campaign concludes."
—Mr. Lu Sicheng, General Secretary, SEE (Social Entrepreneurs in Ecology, campaign partner and funder)