Although Somalia has the second-longest coastline in Africa, fish was not a popular food until recently. As cattle have become increasingly hard to raise, Somalis have begun to fish. However, foreign trawlers are over-fishing, exploiting the absence of a government to defend the territorial limits. Illegal dumping of toxic wastes in the waters off Somalia exacerbates the depletion of fish stocks.
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.
Jibrell teaches 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.
Jibrell also has joined with several villages in eastern Sanaag to form the Buran Rural Institute (BRI). With the help of ADESO and NOVIB, a Dutch NGO, BRI has brought together women, men, elders, youth and nomads to focus on peace, political participation and natural resource issues. In May 2001, BRI organized a Camel Caravan in which young people loaded tents and equipment on camels to walk for three weeks through a nomadic area and educate the people about the careful use of fragile resources, healthcare, livestock management and peace.
While Jibrell focuses on arid zones, she has not overlooked the importance of the marine environment. She is one of the lone voices speaking out against the degradation of the Somali marine environment in local, regional and international meetings.
In 2013, Jibrell officially retired from ADESO, after making significant progress in enforcing the charcoal ban and helping the organization expand its work to South Sudan and Kenya. She remains on the organization’s board of directors. Her daughter, Degan is now the Executive Director.
Together with ADESO and with the guidance of her mother, Degan is currently leading a program that restores fisheries in Somalia’s coast by training communities in sustainable fishing practices, revitalizing critical habitat such as mangroves and coral reefs, and developing community-led responses to illegal fishing. This program is being supported by the Jewish Community Foundation and the Goldman Environmental Foundation.