Population growth and climate change have exacerbated tensions between M’Bbororo herders and sedentary farmers. One particularly contentious issue was herders’ ability to access water (rivers, dams, etc.) for their cattle. In 2011, as clashes threatened to spiral out of control, Ibrahim approached CTA to help her employ P3DM in southern Chad.
P3DM is a community-based method for mapping landscapes using local and traditional knowledge of the surrounding environment. Natural features, such as ridges and plateaus, are mapped out on a board by the community, which leads to the creation of an intricate 3D landscape model from which data about the surrounding area can be extrapolated.
With the support of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), CTA brought together herders, scientists, representatives from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the World Meteorological Organisation, and government officials for an initial P3DM event in July/August 2012; the first of CTA’s P3DM events to include nomadic people. Prior to her involvement in this event, Ibrahim had received P3DM training at a CTA event in 2010 and had since helped to lead a community mapping experience organised by CTA in Gabon. These experiences proved extremely valuable to the P3DM project in Chad and helped her to work closely with the M’Bororo and other pastoralist activists from different areas of Eastern, western and central Africa. Overall, 60 M’Bororo men and women were involved in the project, representing the interests of 250,000 nomadic herders in the region with a participation of more than 300 children, men and women builded the map.
"We have recognition"
The model-making process enabled members from each of the different organisations and communities to get a much-needed overview of their contested region and highlighted the consequences of their individual actions on other groups. For instance, farmers were shown how they had blocked routes used by herders to take their cattle to water sources. Areas of land, where certain species of vegetation had become extinct and biodiversity was under threat, were also made much easier to identify.
The mapping exercises around Baïbokoum showed that not only do indigenous communities have a role to play in decision-making and conflict resolution but also that women have the right to be involved in community projects. Ibrahim passionately believes that, since women are relied upon to collect water and take care of cattle, they know and understand their surrounding landscape as well as anyone. This exercise helped to share knowledge between generation by involving M’bororo youth from the communities.
Currently, only one third of this Chad’s region is mapped but, in the future, Ibrahim hopes to continue to work closely with CTA in organising P3DM workshops to help empower more indigenous people and local communities. “In my community, as indigenous nomadic peoples, our ability to get to water and pasture is impacted by changes [to the traditional landscape]… but now we have recognition. We are working with so many ministries and so many projects cannot do without us; people in administration, in government are calling on us,” explains Ibrahim.
Growing up in a nomadic community, Ibrahim understands the challenges that climate change poses but also the contributions that traditional and indigenous knowledge can make to projects like CTA’s P3DM events. “Traditional knowledge and climate science are both critically important for building resilience of rural communities to cope with climate change and indigenous peoples are ready to share their knowledge to help [people] to mitigate and adapt.”
Ibrahim values the impact of P3DM to such an extent that she now uses the method in all of her work. She newly received the Price of Danielle Mitterrand and she was also recently elected as one of National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers of 2017 and selected as the spokesperson to represent civil society at the signing ceremony of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. Ibrahim is also the director of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, which represents the needs of indigenous communities in the country, particularly the M’Bororo people, by engaging key government ministries on the issues and conflicts that are impacting communities.