It’s a simple idea: Restore the planet and save lives.
Climate change, land degradation, and overexploitation cause temperatures to rise, land to dry up, and fertile soil to erode. And that leads to serious challenges, such as extreme droughts and famine.
That’s why Havas Lemz has partnered with Justdiggit to make dry land green again in several parts of Africa, including Kenya, Morocco, and Tanzania. How? By capturing rainwater and introducing sustainable agriculture to create healthy ecosystems.
And they’re just getting started.
Havas Lemz Co-Founder and Creative Director Peter de Lange digs deeper into the project.
So, tell us about your role at Havas Lemz.
I’m the Co-Founder of Lemz and Creative Director. We built our agency on the belief that we should use creativity to create a better world with brands and businesses together. This year, we merged with Havas and rebranded as Havas Lemz in Amsterdam.
And what’s your role in the Justdiggit campaign?
For the last five years, we’ve been helping Justdiggit with their organization, positioning, and branding.
When did this campaign begin?
We started this campaign last year. We realize that a problem like climate change can be overwhelming to people. We wanted to provide a positive outlook to make sure people would be open to learning about Justdiggit’s simple, promising solution.
That’s how we came to our idea: If we can warm up the earth, we can also cool it down.
How can this campaign change the world?
Justdiggit’s dream is to reconnect farmers all over the world with ancient and innovative techniques to restore the ground. Degraded soils can be restored by harvesting rainwater through different techniques. These methods were developed in partnership with the Wageningen University, one of the leading universities globally when it comes to food and climate.
This year, we had the opportunity to send videographer Eldar Gross to Kenya to film the results of a few Justdiggit projects. For the first time, we are able to share proof that re-greening our world and the cooling of our planet go hand-in-hand with feeding people. Our planet is warming up, and we are losing fertile soil at an unprecedented rate. With the growing population, it is crucial to restore ecosystems at large to provide food, stability, water, and livelihoods for the future.
Climate change is a subject that people associate with a lot of negative campaigns, movies, and stories to people. Justdiggit always campaigns with a positive tone of voice and message that explains that affordable and achievable solutions exist.
What feedback have you gotten?
It has been very successful so far. Large corporations, such as Rabobank and Tony’s Chocolonely, have joined Justdiggit’s green revolution with funding and expertise due to the visibility and tone of the campaign. And consumer donations have more than tripled since the first campaign. Influential ambassadors and media companies are on board too.
Can you give a few specifics about Justdiggit’s projects?
Well, Justdiggit has developed projects in Kenya, Tanzania, and on a smaller scale, Mali. Kuku in Kenya, for example, is a great project. 72,000 water bunds—small stone dams that conserve soil and water—were dug by the Maasai community. These bunds allow rainwater, which is otherwise wasted, to seep into the soil and re-green large plots of land—nearly 2,000 acres.
It provides food, water, income, and local cooling for the Maasai community. Also, there’s a grass seed bank for Maasai women to grow and harvest grass seeds that serve as food for their livestock and can also be sold on the local market. Thanks to this, they can survive during the dry periods with their livestock and generate a steady income. Due to the carbon intake by the returned vegetation, all of these projects have a cooling effect on the local climate.
And what results have you seen so far?
500 million extra liters of water have been brought subsurface, and 17,000 people have benefitted directly from these projects. Since the projects are in middle of one of the oldest national parks in Kenya, wildlife has a place to feed itself. We’re also seeing the projects being copied by other farmers and Maasai, which is the perfect example of the kickstarter role Justdiggit wants to play. Twice the size of Europe can be re-greened using these techniques.
We are making an impact. Justdiggit provides knowledge and inspiration to NGOs, communities, companies, and people to take up the shovel and restore ecosystems. Justdiggit is a small, dedicated team. They’ve helped to kickstart this process but in no way want to own it or become a large NGO.
How does this tie in with Havas’ Together ethos?
Havas has decided that climate change is one of the most important issues today—and in the future. Many talk about the problems. But like Havas, Justdiggit believes in solutions. We disseminate positivity and hope by bringing people, companies, and media from all walks of life together to kickstart Mother Nature. I would like to ask any colleagues who read this to join this revolution. We strongly believe it deserves more international attention and support. If you are interested to learn more about Justdiggit, contact Wessel van Eeden or visit www.justdiggit.org for more information.