February 18, 2022

Fatima Jibrell

Expertise: Environmental activist

Fatima Jibrell , she founded African Development Solutions (ADESO), then known as Horn of Africa Relief and Development Organization in the early 1990s. She is also the coordinator of the Resource Management Somali Network (RMSN), which includes environmental groups throughout the Horn of Africa. She was also instrumental in creating the Women’s Coalition for Peace to counter the emergence of a new political crisis in northeast Somalia in the Puntland region.

Environmental degradation and desertification intensified during the collapse of Somalia’s central government in 1991 and the subsequent civil war, the market for charcoal in the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia led to large-scale and environmentally damaging logging.

Charcoal, a fuel source, replaced livestock as Somalia’s main export following the livestock ban imposed by the Gulf states in September 2000. In response to the charcoal crisis, Jibrell and ADESO trained a team of young people to organize awareness campaigns about the irreversible damage of unrestricted charcoal production. In 1999, ADESO organized a peace march in Puntland’s main town to stop the “charcoal wars.” As a result of her education and lobbying, in 2000 the Puntland government banned the export of charcoal and has since enforced the ban, leading to an 80 percent reduction in exports. To eliminate the domestic need for charcoal, ADESO promotes the use of solar cookers. In the course of their campaign, Jibrell and ADESO’s staff received numerous threats. ADESO continues to work across the boundaries of clans, a significant accomplishment in Somalia where clan conflicts are common. Ms. Jibrell also taught a grassroots response to drought and water scarcity by teaching community groups, especially women and youth, to build small rock dams. By slowing the runoff during the brief rainy season, these small dams nourish vegetation, crucial in slowing the growth of arid lands.

For her efforts in environmental degradation and desertification, Jibrell has received a number of awards. In 2002, she was presented the Goldman Environmental Prize, the most prestigious grassroots environmental award. In 2008, she also won the National Geographic Society/Buffett Foundation Award for Leadership in Conservation. In 2014 Jibrell received the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Champions of the Earth award for her environmental conservation work. Additionally in 2016 Jibrell received the Takreem Award for Environmental Development and Sustainability.

Champion of the Earth Fatima Jibrell – Acceptance Speech


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