Graphics Indy: Dieter Bertram

VOLUME 14:
SOMALIA
FATIMA JIBRELL
is saving the environment

Based on the literature on international development and personal success, why has Fatima Jibrell (and her non-profit organisations) been so successful?

Some key characteristics come to mind:

Adeso's activities reflect a belief that effective aid to Africa must come from within.

The organisation uses local resources and supports communityled intiatives, collaboration and long-term development rather than short-term relief.

Jibrell emphasises the importance of investing in communities and their sustainability, including job development, so that they do not need to depend on aid.

Fatima Jama Jibrell was born in 1947 in Somalia. Her mother struggled in order for her to attend school. Her father was a merchant mariner who settled in the US. At the age of 16, Jibrell joined her father in the US.

A few years later, she returned to Somalia where she met her husband, Abdulrahman Mohamoud Ali, a diplomat. The couple moved to Iraq for Ali's work and Jibrell continued her education in nearby Syria.

In 1981, Ali was transferred to the US. The two engaged in activism and humanitarian work, setting up a lobby for Somalia, and Jibrell earned her master's in social work at the University of Connecticut.

In 1991, the civil war in Somalia prompted Jibrell, her husband and some family friends to found the Horn of Africa Relief and Development Organisation or "Horn Relief" to support peace through youth leadership and environmental initiatives.

In 1996, Jibrell co-founded the Resource Management Somali Network, the only cross-clan, cross-regional environmental organisation in Somalia.

In 2000, she persuaded the regional government in north-eastern Somalia to save old-growth acacia trees by creating a ban on charcoal made from them.

At the time, charcoal was Somalia's major export after livestock, but acacia trees were important to people's livelihoods, from the leaves which were used as food by camels that provided people with milk and meat, to the gum from the sap, and shade.

To eliminate the domestic need for charcoal, Jibrell promoted the use of solar cookers. Her efforts led to her being awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2002. In 2004, she co-founded Sun Fire Cooking. She created the world's first solar cooking village, Bender Bayla, when she donated 950 solar cookers to its people. She also wrote and co-produced Charcoal Traffic, a short (seven minutes) award-winning film from 2008 about Somalia's charcoal crisis.

In 2008, she received a National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in Conservation.

By 2010, Horn Relief was helping communities outside Somalia; first pastoralists in north-eastern Kenya and a year later, people resettling in South Sudan. In 2012, Horn Relief changed its name to African Development Solutions (Adeso) to reflect the organisation's work beyond the Horn of Africa.

By late 2014, Adeso's cash-for-work programme had positively impacted over 120 000 people and their direct cash grants had benefited 580 466.

Jibrell is co-author of Peace and Milk: Scenes of Northern Somalia (2011). She serves on several boards including: We Are Women Activists, Radio Galkaayo (a Somali radio station with programming that focuses on human rights and the environment), and Amahada Danyarta, a micro-finance institution.

In 2014, Jibrell became the first Somali to win the UN's top environmental accolade, the Champion of the Earth award.

Dr Heidi G Frontani is a geographer in the nature-society tradition, whose research has examined the relationship between the park management approach and conservation effect. Much of her early research employed a political ecology framework and involved field work with English- and Swahili-speaking fishing communities living near marine protected areas in Kenya and the US. Since 2007, when she began leading an academic service learning programme partnering with communities in Ghana, her research has included development studies more broadly. Her interests include the Rockefeller Foundation and the Wellcome Trust's disease control and public health initiatives in early 20th-century Africa.

African Success Stories Ghana - Volume 1

African Success Stories Sierra Leone - Volume 2

African Success Stories Tanzania - Volume 3

African Success Stories Ghana - Volume 4

African Success Stories Democratic Republic of Congo - Volume 5

African Success Stories - Sierra Leone - Volume 6

African Success Stories - Burkina Faso - Volume 7

African Success Stories - Kenya - Volume 8

African Success Stories - African stars with home grown goals! - Volume 9

African Success Stories - Helping others to follow own path - Volume 10

African Success Stories - Making huge difference with displaced children - Volume 11

African Success Stories - Making huge difference with displaced children - Volume 12

African Success Stories - How global brand was brewed - Volume 13