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Customer Focus: Justdiggit

Cool down the planet, make it more sustainable, and help people in Africa at the same time. That is the combined goal of the Dutch humanitarian organization Justdiggit, and their amazing method is — digging holes. Director of Programs, Niels Dierckx, told us about the innovative ideas behind Justdiggit.

Positive Impact on the Regional Climate

“Climate change is not something that makes people happy,” Niels, 37, tells us in his Amsterdam office. “We want to show that it is possible to make a positive impact. That is the message we want to be heard in the Western world as well as in Tanzania and Kenya.”

At the same time, the problems in Africa are immense. Climate change, land degradation, and overexploitation are causing temperatures to rise, land to dry up, and fertile soils to erode. This causes serious problems such as extreme droughts and famine.

The unique Justdiggit method is called a “Hydrologic Corridor.” It is comprised of large-scale, landscape restoration projects which retain rainwater for vegetation and prevent erosion, flooding, and land degradation. This is the way Niels and his coworkers and partners aim to positively impact the regional climate. CO2 is captured, local temperature is reduced, and local rains are created. Says Niels, “We try to break the vicious circle.”

Upward Spiral in Kenya

One such project is in southern Kenya, just north of majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. “It is the home of the Masai people,” Niels, who visits the region often, tells us. “Unfortunately there is not enough grazing land because of dryness. Rainwater can no longer infiltrate the ground resulting in floods and a very hard, infertile soil.”

The Justdiggit method worked miracles. Partnering with the Dutch NGO, the Masai community dug more than 80,000 rainwater-harvesting bunds or embankments. These semi-circular gaps in the soil slowed down and filtered runoff water from rainfall and therefore reduced soil degradation. The bunds enabled rainwater to penetrate the soil again which is essential for the vegetation to recover. “The beginning of an upward spiral,” as Niels describes it.

“Furthermore, a grass seed bank was initiated by Masai women. They harvest seeds and grasses which doubled their income. More food can grow now, and the landscape is restored at the same time!”

Sustainable Travel with Raptim

Air travel, a sector which has relatively high CO2 emissions, is one of the difficult issues for every environmental organization which does aid work in Africa. Niels explained, “We closely monitor the number of our trips, and always try to take direct flights – at a higher cost if necessary. Above all, we collaborate with local partners, whom we contact through Skype. I have a call with Tanzania later this morning.”

Furthermore, Justdiggit travels with Raptim, one the frontrunners when it comes to applying sustainable travel. Offsetting carbon emissions is an important part of that strategy. That is not the only reason Justdiggit chose Raptim to handle their travel needs. Niels added, “They are very responsive. Last minute flights were taken care of in one day.”

More Information

Niels hopes Justdiggit’s efforts will have a positive impact on the climate as a whole. For him, the Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is a symbol. “The iconic glaciers on the mountain disappeared, for the most part, the previous decade,” Niels explained, “According to some predictions, all snow will disappear within ten years. It is our founder’s dream to keep the snow on Mount Kilimanjaro!”

Do you want to know more about the valuable work of Niels and Justdiggit? Visit their website, or Facebook Page, or Twitter Account, and spread the message!

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