Fatima Jibrell, a Somali Afrolutionist that focuses on environmental activism and a founder of African Development Solutions (ADESO) will be the first citizen of Somalia to win the champions of the earth award.
Her efforts in building peace and advocating for better environmental practices and protecting the livelihoods of Somalia’s pastorals deemed fit for her name to be engraved on the plaque, and become one of many heirs including Brian McClending of Google Earth and Carlo Petrini of Slow Food.
Since 1991, Jibrell has dedicated her life to preserving Somalia’s flora, and empowering its people. In that very year, she founded Horn Relief: a non profit organization to mobilize local and international resources to protect the environment. One of the milestone projects her organisation implemented was the rock dam approach to stopping soil erosion and gully formation.
The rock dam approach is simple composition of rocked piled up together to slow down the flow of water through the brief rainy season. The approach allows the rock dams to gather soil and allow plants and small trees to germinate, as a result of conducive soil conditions. She has encouraged communities across the country to build and support rock dams to ensure sustainable plant growth that can feed the families in these communities, even places that have been hardest hit by drought and desertification looked towards this model as a self-sustaining plan.
Fast tracking to 2004, Jibrell noted that the is a renewable natural resource that is not being taken to advantage and yet could help thousands of people – the sun. Her realization came upon the fact that Somalis developed a habit of cutting down wood for cooking, which promotes deforestation and will affect them in the near future. She co-founded Sun Fire Cooking; introducing affordable solar cooking to multitudes of families within the region. By 2005, she administered over 950 solar cookers to inhabitants of Bender Bayla, making the village the first solar cooking village on Earth.
Today, ADESO has touched the lives of over 120 000 people through their cash for work programs, 580,466 people through direct cash grants (most in emergency situations) and extended its work outside Somalia to Kenya and South Sudan.
The Champions of Earth Award, a flagship environmental award by the United Nations, will be presented to her tomorrow in Nairobi, Kenya. The award was launched in 2005 and recognizes outstanding afrolutionists in fields of policy, science, entrepreneurship and civil society action. The full Awards Ceremony will take place at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. on November 19th, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme.