[00:00:00] Section: Podcast introduction
[00:00:00] Overdub: Hello and welcome to season two of The Story of Woman. In today’s world, it can feel like change is happening, but only in the wrong direction. While we agree there’s still a lot of work to do, we’re reframing that story.
[00:00:17] Overdub: I’m your host, Anna Stoecklein and each episode of this season I’ll be exploring how women make change happen from those at the top helping to drive it. We’ll look at where we are on this long march to equality, what lies ahead, and how important you are in the fight.
[00:00:38] Overdub: This isn’t a story of a world that’s doomed to oppress women forever. This is a story of an opportunity to grow stronger than ever before. Exactly as womankind has always done.
[00:00:50] Section: Episode level introduction
[00:00:52] Anna Stoecklein: Hello, friends and welcome back. Today, we've got a conversation with another incredible woman leading the fight [00:01:00] on climate change. Most themes of this Changemaker series have been only two episodes, but climate gets three because our planet is a bit of a priority at the moment, or at least it should be.
[00:01:14] Anna Stoecklein: And there are so many change making women in this space all around the world. My guest today is from an Indigenous nomadic community in Chad that's been around for thousands of years, long before the colonizers came in and called the land Chad.
[00:01:32] Anna Stoecklein: Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is an expert in the adaptation and mitigation of Indigenous peoples to climate change. She's the founder and president of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, an organization that she created when she was, I kid you not, nine years old. I mean, I think, obviously this says a lot about Hindou, but it also says a lot about the level of climate [00:02:00] destruction that frontline communities such as Hindou's have seen. You know, thinking about a nine year old that's been told stories of how much water used to be in this lake and has been witnessing the extinction of animals all around her and seeing her community's homes and ways of living and their ways of getting food and water all impacted from the day that she was born, so that by the time she's nine years old, she decides that she needs to do something about it.
[00:02:33] Anna Stoecklein: Hindou's focus is on elevating the rights and inclusion of Indigenous people, along with their knowledge and their traditions, in this global climate movement. And honestly, it blows my mind, and at the same time it doesn't at all, that she and Indigenous communities would have to fight so hard to be included in this movement.
[00:02:56] Anna Stoecklein: Indigenous people make up only 5% of [00:03:00] the world's population, yet they are protecting 80% of the remaining biodiversity. 80%! And do you know what happens if that 80% goes away? We go away. As Hindou says in our conversation today, if that happens, it's going to be very fast for the rest of humanity.
[00:03:21] Anna Stoecklein: Yet, Hindou and others are having to fight tirelessly, not just against the natural forces that are decimating their homes and ways of living, but fighting for an opportunity to do something about it. For their voices to be heard and their knowledge to be listened to and used, and specifically for funding.
[00:03:44] Anna Stoecklein: Or as Hindou puts it for the keys of the car, to be the drivers of this fight because they don't wanna just be in the car so that the rest of us can continue driving it in the wrong way as we've been doing all along. [00:04:00] But don't worry, the conversation is not all doom and gloom. Hindou remains optimistic, and in our conversation today she talks about why that is, what needs to happen to move this car in the right direction, and how important women are.
[00:04:15] Anna Stoecklein: Hindou's received the Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award. She was named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic and was appointed as a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. She serves as a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, a member of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and the Advisory Committee to the Secretary General's Climate Action Summit. And in 2019, she was listed by Time Magazine as one of 15 women championing action on climate change.
[00:04:48] Anna Stoecklein: She and her community and communities like hers have been at this since the day they arrived on this planet. They have the knowledge and are on the [00:05:00] ground doing the work. They are the true change makers of this moment, of this movement, which is the mother of all movements because yeah, the planet. So let's hope and advocate for and vote and talk about and do whatever we can in our own spheres of influence to give Hindou and those on the front line, the keys to this burning hot car that is driving in the wrong direction.
[00:05:32] Anna Stoecklein: Alright, that's all for me for now. If you like what you hear today, please rate and review the podcast wherever you listen. It really helps other people to find it. But for now, please enjoy my conversation with Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.
[00:05:49] Section: Episode
[00:05:49] Anna Stoecklein: Hi, Hindou. Welcome, thank you so much for being here today.
[00:05:54] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: It's a great pleasure.
[00:05:56] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah. I'm really, really looking forward to chatting with you, [00:06:00] hearing your story, and about all the incredible work that you're doing. And to start our conversation, I'd really love to have you tell us a bit about the community that you come from. So you're a part of a nomadic cattle herding community of people who have grazed the land around Lake Chad for millennia, and that's hard for most of us to kind of wrap our heads around, both in terms of living nomadically, but also living in communities that have been around for thousands of years. So can you tell us a bit about your community, help paint that picture for us about what life is like for you inside?
[00:06:37] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: My people call it Mbororo, so we are named after our cattles because we do have a red cattles with the big horn. It's the unique one around all Africa, and it's the cattles that used to work like kilo kilometers, thousand of thousand of them. So then we have been named after [00:07:00] the cattle, so they call us Mbororo people. We are part of the bigger Fulani groups, but we still the one who are keeping the culture, the traditions, and living in a remote area.
[00:07:13] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So before the colonizations, it is all our land, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Nigeria, central Africa Republic, even to Sudan, and now to the Arab Sea. So because we are the peoples of the land, we do not know the borders before 60 or seven years ago that when the colonial come and decide to cut our land in the pieces. So personally from my own family, I found myself across the border. I have my direct cousin who got a central Africa Republic nationalities, Cameroon nationalities, Nigerian nationalities, Sudan nationalities, and personally as I get born in Chad, raising Chad, [00:08:00] so I got a Chad nationality.
[00:08:02] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And I found that so in fear because peoples do not understand the thousand of years that we live in harmony with the nature. And just to come and cut the land and break the family, I can say, because it is my cousin directly, so they get a different nationality. However, we have the beautiful history of living because we live in harmony across a different ecosystem.
[00:08:31] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So I grew up between living in my community who are a cattle herders. So, some of us are hundred percent nomadic to today, living from one place to another one to found water and pastures. So we can live after thousand kilometers during eight years and come back around Lake Chad. And some of us lost their cattles due to the climate change by [00:09:00] diversity laws and also some conflict like the Central African Republic.
[00:09:04] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And they become a semi-nomadic. So they settle in some space, and then during the rainy season they are around the villages. During the dry season, the young man take the cattles and go very far away for at least between three and nine months, and then they come back to the communities. So that's mean I come from a nomadic and semi-nomadic communities.
[00:09:32] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And that helped me to get two culture growing up in my peoples, where I understand how they are living, what they are standing up always for the land, for the nature, for the planet, and between going in the school, in the city. So that's where I come from and very proudly.
[00:09:52] Anna Stoecklein: So beautiful. And to put that into perspective, you mentioned you can move up to a thousand kilometers within one year. That's roughly the size of [00:10:00] California for all of our listeners to be able to envision that. So quite a lot of moving and one can imagine the types of changes that you have seen living this type of life over the past few years, few decades. Obviously, your focus on environmental advocacy stems from a lot of this own firsthand experience witnessing the effects of global climate change on your community. You've mentioned a little bit already, but can you tell us about the types of changes that you have seen and in what kind of timeframe living in this community?
[00:10:36] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: When you are living in the community, that their life depends from the rainfall. You understand immediately the little change in your life. So my people follow the rainfall when we got a good rain, that's mean our cattle can get the good pastures and that's mean we can get milk, [00:11:00] we can get butter from the milk, we can sell it, and our economy can go up and we can found some food for ourself and we can be healthy.
[00:11:11] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: The opposite way of little things become a huge issue for the entire communities, and that is what we are living. Because when people talk about the climate change impact or biodiversity laws, for me, I'm not reading that in the book or seeing that in a documentary just like held for one month of shock maximum. I lived that since I was young.
[00:11:36] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So one of the examples I can share when I was young and then playing with the kids in my communities, we used to play with a lot of colorful bears that now I'm seeing only like in some documentary of Amazon. So we play with those bears. We have a lot of grass. We have the rainy season that start from the north going to the south, from the [00:12:00] south coming to the north. So until nine months of rains. So that mean we have a lot of ecosystem and a lot of species.
[00:12:10] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And now those kind of birds that I'm talking about, I'm seeing it like a dream. The blue, the red, the yellow that are chanting, playing just next to you, I do not see them anymore. So when we say we are losing one millions of these species, for me, it's not a number. It is a reality that I live personally, not someone that taught me completely.
[00:12:38] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And why it's changing? So the rainy season change a lot for us. The rainy season become more and more irregular. It can come with a heavy rains that can flood everything. Flood the crabs, flood the pastures, flood the home of the peoples. And this is [00:13:00] what is happening this rainy season in my hometown Chad. But even in Niger, in Nigeria, because of course the rain do not have any frontiers, peoples become homeless overnight.
[00:13:15] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: We never expected to have this kind of rain. My own brother's dad was sleeping and he wake up in a water and everything flooded within a week. The water went from 50 centimeters to one meters and half. So to take off their stuff, they have to swim in this water. They have to take the can away.
[00:13:44] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And today now, I'm talking to you, the homeless peoples are thousand of them just around N'Djamena city. They have nothing else, no food, no shelter. They cannot take their children to school. [00:14:00] They cannot have the crabs. They just like left in them on and it's happening over the night.
[00:14:06] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: The year before, we got a very heavy drought. We got cattles dying. We got even the camels dying. Why I say the camels? Because the camels can drinks only once every month to three months. Cattle are not like the rest of the species. They cannot drink morning and evening like cattles. So camels drinks only once every month or every three months, depending from the season. And when those kind of animals start dying because of the lack of the water, so that's mean human being, we done.
[00:14:47] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So those kind of extreme weathered events we are living and experiencing is becoming very hard nightmares of my peoples because we have to [00:15:00] walk more further, we have to change our trajectories of movement as nomadic in order to keep the balance of the ecosystem. Yes, for now we are doing it. We are trying to be resilient, to cope with it. But the cautions is until when?
[00:15:18] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, until when. Because just to give an example of the disappearing water that's occurred with Lake Chad that I've heard you talk about as well and how much that has changed in the past 30 years. This was one of the top five freshwaters in Africa, and I've heard you say, you know, when your mom was born, it was 25,000 square kilometers. When you were born, roughly 30 years ago, it was 10,000, and now it's 1200. 90%% of the water has disappeared. So when you ask that question until when, when you look at that kind of trajectory,it feels immediate. And you've [00:16:00] mentioned a little bit about the types of adaptations that the community has had to overcome and ways that you've had to adapt to these changes. But what else can you tell us about what your community has had to do to adapt, especially in terms of this disappearing water when you are migrating to find the water in the first place. What does a massive lake like Lake Chad, being 90% less than what it used to be, what does that mean for the reality of people in day-to-day life?
[00:16:31] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: It's very scary when you just like know and hear from your mother, from your uncles telling you in this place, right where we are standing, it's used to be a water where people are fishing. And then you like, what in this place used to be like a water? So that how like Chad is dramatically changed and evaporated, disappear. [00:17:00] So 90% of the waters that were more than 40 millions peoples living and depending on need, seeing their life, it's just going.
[00:17:10] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And that's also why around like Chad, you have a lot of conflict. From all the humanitarians to all the terrorists, to the one between communities. So it's become a matter of survival and people have to fight each other to get access to those shrinking resources. And of course many other places also where peoples are losing the resources, they come back around the Lake Chad, because they only wet land areas and some water that are remain there.
[00:17:47] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And you cannot chase them because when someone looking for the food, you cannot chase them. Who are you to chase those peoples? Because you are all coming from nature and you depend from the nature. But that's also [00:18:00] the space where my peoples are learning of a centuries and thousand of years of a traditional knowledge, and that's also what make us more resilient.
[00:18:13] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Even with the changes we found ourself to adapt. To know where is the water when it is the year of the heavy drought. To found where there is food when it is the years of heavy flooding every crops. So I used to say that my peoples are the engineer of the nature. My grandmother has the best applications who can give us the weather forecast.
[00:18:45] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Because she learn it from the nature. And the beautiful about her, of course, she don't need electricity to plug herself or an internet to connect herself. Her electricity and internet are coming from the trees that [00:19:00] she know, from the fruits, from the flowers. It's coming from the cloud that she's watching every day from the sky that are having the star positions, and it's coming from the wind directions.
[00:19:16] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So we observe every kind of life surrounding us and every species of the nature who are surrounding us. So when you are nomadic, you don't have a close home. So you have to understand the nature. If it's going to rain, to hide yourself and your stuff. If it's going to be sunny to found a more cooler place when there is no water to found this place where you can get water.
[00:19:46] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: We do not have a supermarket that you can just go and buy your bottle of water. No, it do not exist at all. So that's make us more knowledgeable about our nature and [00:20:00] more expert about what's happening.
[00:20:03] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: For examples, the meteorological peoples, they can give you the weather forecast maybe for the next six weeks or maximum three months. But for us, it is not a choice, we have to make the weather forecast for a year at least. And for examples, the meteorological weather forecast, they can tell you in your application in your phone, it's going to rain tomorrow, but surprisingly tomorrow is going to be a very sunny day. It's going to change, but we do not have any chance to make this kind of mistake. If it's going to rain, it's going to rain. Because we are observing a different kind of informations.
[00:20:50] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So when it's going to rain in the next two hours, we look at the little insect who are taking them eggs in their nest. [00:21:00] So the insect do not speak, but they know how to protect their generation. They will put them in their nest to do not get floods. We can observe a wind that is coming from a corner between south and north, and we observe if the wind is heavy or if the wind is dry. If the wind, it's coming very slowly or very fast, so that can help us to say, listen, in the next two hours maximum, it's going to rain. So we start packing our stuff and we just hide ourself.
[00:21:41] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So that's how details we can know our weather forecast. And if we wanted to make a weather forecast for a year, I give you one example because it is a matter of the intellectual property rights of my community. I cannot give all the examples. So one of the examples [00:22:00] is we have some kind of birds who build their nest in the branches used to in the water.
[00:22:07] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Those birds, they live only in the water, so the years that they build the nest in an up branch, we know that it's going to be a heavy, rainy season that is coming that can flood all the spaces, so we know how to plan our life. If they building in the branch who is down to the water, we know that it's going to be a dry season, so then it's not going to be a lot of water.
[00:22:38] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So we know also how we can plan our years. So that's how details we can go from one day or some hours of rain to the one years planning of if it's going to be a good rainy season or not, because we are the people who are depending from the rainfall and we know all rain is the [00:23:00] most needed for the humanity to get survived, to grow your crops, to drink your water, to have all your ation around the world.
[00:23:07] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So we have to understand those kind of details, and that's how my people are knowledgeable. Doesn't matter, we didn't went to school, doesn't matter they do not call us PhD, or whatever, but we have our own PhD in so different scale.
[00:23:23] Anna Stoecklein: Mm-hmm. Absolutely incredible. I mean, I had read about that example of the bugs and knowing within two hours that it was gonna rain and looking at the birds and where they put their nest and the winds, and it's incredible that I can attest it's way more accurate than the weather apps on my phone, your grandmothers. So it's really incredible and obviously, you know, a big part of your work is getting voices like yours and indigenous communities into the international dialogue and discussion and the solutions because you all are closest to this problem, you know nature [00:24:00] inside and out, everything that you've just laid out.
[00:24:03] Anna Stoecklein: So, Let's talk about solutions for a minute. You've said in your speech at COP 26 that "It took 25 COPs to understand what indigenous people have known forever. Our planet is alive. Soil is her skin, forest is her hair, rivers are her blood. And today the earth is sick and that we, indigenous people, have the map. We know where we're going and we know how to drive. So give us the key."
[00:24:33] Anna Stoecklein: I think we can really all start to understand why indigenous people are best placed to be driving the cars right now. But tell us about some of the knowledge and solutions that you see as most essential for addressing the climate crisis.
[00:24:48] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Absolutely. Firstly, that the audience need to understand indigenous peoples who are around five to 6% of the world is populations. [00:25:00] We are protecting 80% of the world's biodiversity. We are protecting also more than a quarter of the land earth. So that's mean indigenous peoples are living across all the ecosystem from the mountain to the desert, to the Savannahs, of course, to the tropical forest. We are living to the glaciers. To the islands in the middle of the oceans, middle of the nowhere.
[00:25:33] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So indigenous peoples are the guardians of the world's ecosystems, and that make indigenous peoples around all the world knowledgeables. We have something in commons. It's do not matter also, I do not speak the same language to my indigenous brothers and sisters from the Amazon or from the Arctic or from the Asia, but we do have [00:26:00] our common language: protecting the Mother Earth as duty, not as passions. We feel that we have the duty and we learn that from our ancestors that we have to protect and respect everything around the world. We have to respect the rivers, the trees. We have to respect the glaciers, the rangers, the cattles. We have to respect the bigger elephant to the little insect.
[00:26:33] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And we have to respect each other as human being. Doesn't matter, our differences doesn't matter you do not speak the same language. So that's how indigenous peoples get in common around the world. And that's made us the guardian of our mother Earth. So we learned from it a lot. I know from our traditional knowledge across all our seven sociocultural [00:27:00] regions, we are protecting the mother Earth. So when you go in Amazon or in Congo Basin, you can look at the most diverse and protected forests are the home of indigenous peoples.
[00:27:16] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Even scientists, I mean, I can say the modern scientists recognize that and prove it. So we do protect it because we have a duty or need, because we know how to keep the balance or need. The hunter gatherers around the forest, they know at what time they have to hunt, which kind of species. It's not about the quota that now the modern government are putting the quota of hunting.
[00:27:44] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So we do have naturally the way of hunting, the time of hunting- when, where, what. The indigenous peoples who are living around all the glaciers, my brothers [00:28:00] and sisters from the Arctic, the Inuit, or you can get the Saami. The fishers peoples or the ranger elders, they know exactly where to move up to the mountain with the rangers or down.
[00:28:16] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: They know the season that where it's become harder for them. The rangers have to dig the ice before to get all the snow, they know exactly how to do that. No one can show them or can tell them this is the knowledge appropriate for them through all the centuries. And the fisher people, they know exactly where are the salmon, how they are migrating between the fresh water to the salty water, how they can fish them even into the glaciers.
[00:28:47] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So that's how our indigenous peoples around the world are knowledgeable from the Himalaya to the desert, who are very deep and dry. One thing that we are asking the [00:29:00] world is to recognize our knowledge, to respect our rights, because our knowledge are related to our land rights. If our rights are not recognized and respected, our knowledge will be gone.
[00:29:15] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And when our knowledge will be gone is the guardian of 80% of the words biodiversity, who will be gone with the remaining biodiversity. So it's going to be very fast for the rest of the humanity. Because they do not understand how to live in harmony with the nature. They are living by extracting every single day, by using the nature as commodities without thinking that they are alive because the nature is allowing them to be alive.
[00:29:43] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Without thinking that they are not a special species, they are only one species of the nature, and they have to live in harmony by respecting the rivers, respecting the blood of the Earths, by do not take all the [00:30:00] blood of the Earths by taking the fossil fuel, by respecting the health of the earth who is the forest, who is protecting her skin from the dry sun. Her skin is the soil. So if you do not protect your skin as human being, when you go to the bed, you used to put a cream in your skin, why you do that? So you should also protect the skin of the earth who is the soil. Otherwise you cannot get the food.
[00:30:27] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So that's how indigenous peoples know the mother Earth is alive. You have to keep her in a balance. You cannot always extract. You have to respect her in order to respect yourself, in order to survive.
[00:30:43] Anna Stoecklein: 5% of the population protecting 80% of the remaining biodiversity, let's just let those numbers set in again. Incredible.
[00:30:55] Anna Stoecklein: So I've heard you say this sentence before, which just resonates so [00:31:00] true and I think it's very powerful, you've said people still believe that indigenous peoples represent the past, but let me tell you, we are the future. Absolutely. I sure hope so. I'd say let's give you the keys to this car because you've been doing this your whole life and as you've alluded to, and again, to read something else that you've said, you've said if you're born an indigenous person, you're born an activist because you're born with the problems surrounding your community.
[00:31:29] Anna Stoecklein: So, this is generation after generation and everyone in these communities alive today have been growing up with this knowledge, and as you say, you need the rights in order to be able to maintain the knowledge, in order to be able to save the earth. So what is the current status around indigenous rights then? Do you feel like that has been improved over recent years? And how much further do we have to go from your perspective?
[00:31:59] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: It [00:32:00] took the world so long until the COP in Paris 24 years before to understand, yes, indigenous people play a crucial role. So that was the first step. But after the Paris, it was also just like a documents. So it took them again couple of years before we come to Glasgow in the COP 26 to celebrate all indigenous peoples need the support, let us invest on them.
[00:32:32] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: I was so excited when I saw the 2nd of November, I will never forget that. We just like stand up in a big room with all the Head of State. I remember also there was the Prime Minister of UK who is spoke, the Prime Minister Indonesia, of Colombia, and it was immediately me who spoke on the name of indigenous peoples [00:33:00] and after me, Biden coming the state and spoke. I'm like, yes, they recognize the indigenous peoples. We are the leader of the war. I spoke even before Biden, who is coming, like for his first time in the climate conference.
[00:33:15] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: But after one year, when we come in the COP 27, when they have the 1.7 billions for indigenous peoples, the commitment they have to report back. During the reporting back, we figure out only 7% of these went to the indigenous peoples. Even the 7%, we cannot name who from the indigenous communities that get it.
[00:33:41] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So the 93% went to the big NGOs and the government as usual. So the issue is not recognitions of the indigenous peoples as leader at the international level, when we talk about climate change or biodiversity. The issue is to give us the key, where is the key. We don't [00:34:00] want to be in the car just so you drive us in the wrong way, as you did. So the investment on our names is not coming to our people. And this is so unfortunate because it's going to delay all the solutions that we are looking for.
[00:34:17] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So what we are asking, as indigenous people, we are asking for direct access funding to our communities, to our peoples who do have the knowledge and who are doing the action on the ground. Why they cannot trust us just to give us the funding. Why when we say we protect the 80%, they are all agree. So if we protect the 80%, that's mean we can manage the little money that they're just putting in the tables. So we are the best who can manage it. Maybe the way that we are managing it is not the way that they get to school by putting the Excel sheet or thousand of report.
[00:34:57] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: But for us, it is not the matter of the [00:35:00] Excel sheet of thousand of report. It is the matter of restoration of the nature that you can see by your eyes, but you cannot just read it somewhere. So my cousin, who cannot do an Excel sheet, she can help to protect an hectares and hectares of the ecosystem. So why they cannot trust us for the first time, why they cannot put the cash in the table.
[00:35:24] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: We cannot live in the hopes. We cannot live in the commitment. We can live only when we have the real actions. It is not time of negotiations anymore. It is time of the action. That's what indigenous peoples are looking for, but they also must play their roles. We cannot do everything in their place. They are the one who can stop the fossil fuel to shift to the renewable energy.
[00:35:53] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: They are the one who can do the right policies to vote for the right peoples who can change our [00:36:00] planet, who can respect it. We cannot do that in their place. We can stand up as front light, fight for our land, get killed as all what we are seeing, the environmental activist getting killing every single day.
[00:36:14] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Yes, we assume that we will stand to our land. But they are the one who can stop the fossil fuel and shift to the renewable energy. They are the one who can stop all the duty building infrastructure to shift to the very friendly ecosystem, build infrastructure. To give the future to their own childrens because as indigenous peoples, we are building our future, we didn't wait for them. And we will be doing that because we do not have any other choice. And we believe on our mother Earth to live in harmony with her. So they have to do their job because we are doing ours.
[00:36:55] Anna Stoecklein: Mm-hmm. 7% of funding to groups that are protecting 80% of [00:37:00] biodiversity. It just seems so, so common sense, but it's indigenous groups and it's also women and female-led organizations that are not receiving funding and not getting to drive the car when they should be driving the car.
[00:37:16] Anna Stoecklein: Because you advocate both for indigenous rights and inclusion and also women's rights and inclusion. So I wanna make sure that we talk about that aspect as well. From your standpoint and you know, within your community and everything that you've seen, what makes women well positioned to lead in these efforts, and what is the reality there in terms of giving women the keys to drive the car?
[00:37:39] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Actually, women are the best who can drive any car- about economy, about environment, about educations, about health. Women are the best drivers. Look at covid, who are standing up for all the [00:38:00] world's communities? Who are doing all the nurse issues? They are women. Look at during the covid also who are doing education of the kids at home. They are womens who are feeding the man? Womens who are fighting climate change when men leave the communities because they think that the solution are outside? They are women. So women are the solutions in every communities, indigenous or none.
[00:38:30] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: But sadly, women also are the most impacted when we talk about the climate, environment and justice and all the rest of the crisis. In my communities, the men who are farmers or who are pastoralists, during the dry season, most of them say, you stay home, honey, I'm going to the next city to look for another job and send you the money back. Even your [00:39:00] job where you have a contract, your salary will pass only after 30 days at the end of the month. So when you go just in the city, you cannot come to the city and get the money and send it back home.
[00:39:12] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So after all that time, the women who are left alone at home who have to play the role of man, the role of women, who have to take care of the children, of the elders, who have to know absolutely where they can get water, where they can get food for cooking, where they can get food. So they are becoming an hero because they are doing the job of everyone else that left it on their own.
[00:39:41] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So they are the best one also who can develop the knowledge because they become innovators. They have to innovate everything. They have to look at all the kind of the solutions to do not let their children down, to do not let the elders down, to [00:40:00] keep the communities together.
[00:40:02] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So that's how the women in my community, and in many indigenous communities, are playing the big role of the leaders, but they are playing that in a shelter because no one is recognize what they're doing. No one is valuing what they're doing. The finance for climate is not going to the women. It's going more to the bigger organizations who can babysitting the women organization. How it's come that someone who is taking care of you the entire years, you come and just wanted to show her how you can babysitting her?
[00:40:40] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Like, no, it's not serious at all. The woman who are putting the food in your tables, because you are in the city, you think that no, she cannot manage the money, you cannot give her the access or the chance. So this is not fair. So women are the solutions and women are never [00:41:00] ego. They always think about the broader communities. They do not think about only themself to be up. They always go back to them roots.
[00:41:11] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So we need to invest on solutions that held by the women. We need to invest on the group of the womens who can come together and protect the entire family, the nations in general. So that what we need in order to accelerate the climate solutions.
[00:41:31] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: But of course, we need also to think about the decision making. Because we cannot just put them in a solution where, yes, we can give you the money, you do the things women need to decide. They need to be the decision makers because if she have a good solutions, so that means she can get also her word to say. Not only putting her in the canvas to cut the box, so it's check, check, check. No, we don't want it to be a checking [00:42:00] list. We want it to be a decision makers where our voice can be heard, what we say, can matter, what we say can be implement as a priority, not in the second line. So that can change the world and that can accelerate the climate solutions.
[00:42:19] Anna Stoecklein: Amen. Absolutely. You are doing quite a lot yourself with your own organization to accumulate the knowledge of women and also to put women in the position of leadership and decision making. So when you were only 15 years old, is this right? You founded the Association of Indigenous Peul Women and Peoples of Chad, which works with indigenous communities to help advance women's rights and their rights of indigenous people. I would love to hear you tell us about some of the work that you're doing with this organization. If you can tell us a little bit about it and some of the projects that you're working on, maybe the 3D mapping? I thought that [00:43:00] was a really fascinating one. I'd love to hear more.
[00:43:03] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Sure. So AFPAT is in French, of course we are from French colonies so yeah. So it's Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad. So that's mean like in uh, Association of the Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad who work on two area promotion, protection of human rights, and indigenous people rights, and protection of the environment. Of course, coming through the three real convention biodiversity, climate change and certifications, but more broader because for us, environment is a holistic way of view.
[00:43:40] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: It is integrated way of view. You cannot talk about the human rights without talking about the environment rights, and you cannot talk also about environment rights without talking about human rights because all are interlinked. So in my organizations to found it, it's have been a journey because [00:44:00] growing up as kid, between the communities where I come from and then the modern culture going to school, I have been very marginalized kids and discriminated because they say, oh, you are coming from the bush. You are smelling of milk. You're coming from indigenous communities. So that was very marginalized way and when I go back to my community, they say like, oh, the city girl, so you are going to school. I'm like, oh my God.
[00:44:26] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So I have to prove myself in the best way to prove to my community that yes, I'm the city girls who went to school who can learn how to write and read. But I'm also a girls of the community where I can know how to milk, how to sell the milk, how to go across all the areas to do what you are doing. And I have to prove myself to know all what you are knowing maybe better than you. And at the school, I have to prove myself, yes, I'm coming from indigenous peoples, maybe, yes, my people have milk, but I'm not showering with the milk. I do not smell [00:45:00] the milk. So I have to show you that I can go to school. So that made me understand how lucky I am to understand the two culture and how my relative are so marginalized, doubly because they didn't went to school.
[00:45:19] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And that's what give me the chance to say I have to create a platform to give them a chance. The girl of my age who getting married in very early age, and when they get divorced, they do not have any other choice. So I work to create the associations. The association get its authorizations when I was 14, 15 years old, but it have been created since I was nine years old.
[00:45:48] Anna Stoecklein: O my goodness.
[00:45:49] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: I did not believe that also because it was a fight for me to just like say, I have to fight for the girls of my edge. So after that, [00:46:00] the priority is to put accent in the woman and girls, but of course, without forgetting the entire communities, because the man are leading the communities, and if you do not put forces in the man, you cannot see the change at the community level.
[00:46:18] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So we have some projects, I mean many of the programs, of course, at the community level, we work on the transformations of the products with the women. For examples we do in one regions, women are doing a lot of agriculture around the peanut, so they do everything by hand, transformation into the cat, the oil of the peanut, the butters, whatever.
[00:46:46] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So we help them to better transform and have more revenue, and when they get more revenue, it's help them to send their children to school. It is a project with different components, giving the autonomy, [00:47:00] financially, to the womens, help them to take the decisions, to send their kids to school and to feed their families.
[00:47:07] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: In another project we do agro ecology where they can help to sustain the ecosystem around the national park. In other projects, we do like transformation of the millets, and then in that community they construct like a school room for the children's who can go there, all of them. So we do a lot of project at the community level.
[00:47:29] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: But the most exciting that I love more, of course, is two of them. One is the collections of the traditional knowledge from the men and women's where we are working on need to create a safeguard as intellectual property rights. Because we had this project over seven years now, so we have a lot of knowledge of the community's best on different species.
[00:47:55] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And at the end of the day we say like, wow, that's what build all my people. We cannot [00:48:00] let those knowledge going out without protecting them. So we are working to create a framework of the intellectual property rights of the communities, how they can share the knowledge among them to get more resilience, but how to keep and protect those knowledge also. To be continuously to pass over the generation in order to help us to build the upcoming generation based in our rich traditional knowledge.
[00:48:28] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So like the broad of it, I can tell you is we have a bunch of the thousand of knowledge around only wind. Knowledge around only water. Knowledge around only trees. Knowledge around only animals. Around only plant etc.
[00:48:45] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So all those knowledge help us to create a calendars. So we have in, for examples, western calendars based on four season, winter, autumn and uh, whatever. For [00:49:00] us, each season is based on ecosystem. The peoples who are living around Lake Chad, we have five seasons. The people who are living in a little bit deep south to the tropical forest, we have seven seasons. And each season is best through the ecosystem that we have. And each season is related to a specific knowledge transitions, and that help us to create our own vaccinations. So I love this project because I learn a lot from my people.
[00:49:31] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: My second favorite project is the participatory mapping. So we do a 2D and 3D participatory mapping. It is the exercise where we combine science knowledge, traditional knowledge and technology. I'll give you one of the last example that we did. We map over 3,500 kilometer square [00:50:00] of the land around Lake Chad. In this map, we map it 2056 islands, villages, and stop pinpoints of the nomadic peoples.
[00:50:16] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: We did that by having a satellite map image. And then I print the map, I go to the community and we sit down. The satellite images, you look at it, you say like, it's empty. There is nothing there. It's only a image. Maybe the best satellite image of the world cannot do the concurrence with the knowledge of my community coming from this land.
[00:50:46] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Because it's a living knowledge that we are putting in the map. But of course the satellite image this map give us a big repair so we know where is the rivers. So the man come and put out the bigger repair, [00:51:00] the rivers, the mountain, the green areas. That's it. The rest of the knowledge come, we map exactly where are the sacred forest.
[00:51:10] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Inside the sacred forest, the trees that give us food, the tree that give us medicine, the trees we cannot touch because they are very sacred for us. We map the different water point that I do not know the name in English, French or whatever language only in my mother tongue because it's not only like river and wetland and whatever, we have so different kind of water point that we map on it.
[00:51:37] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: We map all the kind of cities where there is a school or not. We map the details, traditional knowledge of all our communities there. And we agree with the communities, which knowledge that we can make open, translated, to share it. And which knowledge we can keep for ourself. At the end of the day, the [00:52:00] map help us to figure out where are the resources, how we can better manage it, how we can better share the resources to mitigate the conflict between the communities over the resources. Because what is happening, peoples are fighting to get access to the shrinking resources. And with the map, they know exactly how they can better share it and how they can better reconciliate themselves without fighting to the dead.
[00:52:27] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: The map help us also to be the leaders of our land to take the decisions. So when the project come from development or whatever, they just to come with a already cooked idea. They say, we are here, we wanted to give you water because you don't have water. But they do not know the priority of the communities. Maybe it's not the water there. The priority is completely different. So the community can say like, thank you, but in this area, our priority is not what our priority is, A, B, C, D. So then they can take the [00:53:00] decision over their own land, discuss with all the development groups to know what they want.
[00:53:06] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: The other issue is how the women can be the leaders taking the decisions in man-led society. So one of the examples who is very funny in that map we did. So people was arguing about the name of a sacred place and then what was in this place and what is now remain. So all the man at the communities, like every leader we have thousand of peoplesactually. Sitting over two weeks, man and women, but man start arguing as usual, they know better. They're the leaders, the eldest, the youngest. So they argue, they never agreed.
[00:53:46] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: We just like sitting there and looking them and laughing, and then I'm like, oh, okay. Did you done? They're like, yeah, we need to call someone. I'm like, okay, let's call them. We call even someone in the phone. Nothing. So I'm like, okay, [00:54:00] let's just hear from women maybe. Only one woman is stand it up, start to explain the place, the way, and all the peoples shut up. Everything is silence. No one is talking, no noise. And you feel it. You feel it that the truth, it's coming to the surface.
[00:54:22] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Because it is your body who tell you how the people are getting silenced. Just one woman is standing up and telling them that. At the end of the day, she explain everything and I turn it up to all the community leaders say like, what do you think about what she said? Say like, yes, she know it. Yes, she know.
[00:54:40] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: You heard just like yes and head are checking everywhere. I say like, amen. Now we have to change the rules. Let us let the woman speak because they know it better than you, so you can learn also from women. It's not a shame that you learn from women. It's a [00:55:00] knowledge is changed and let your children, the young people, learn and understand.
[00:55:05] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And we get a different methodology of running the map because man can talk, but women also can talk. No one can tell them, no, I'm the man I know better than you. So I really love the way that the mapping is empowering the woman to speak themselves. And of course, the map is amazing because it can be duplicated in any place.
[00:55:28] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: That's why like this year, I will do another map in Chad, but I will do another map in another country, probably in NANiger to do a 3D participatory mapping. So the mapping is the best tool that can combine the science knowledge, traditional knowledge, technology, that can give the communities who didn't went to school all the tools to build their own map, to share resources, to mitigate the conflict and to be the [00:56:00] leaders of their future.
[00:56:01] Anna Stoecklein: It's absolutely incredible. I love the combination of science, of traditional knowledge. It's solving problems around the climate crisis, but also helping to elevate women's voices in the communities and getting men and women to work together in different capacities. It's just incredible.
[00:56:18] Anna Stoecklein: And that's just a few of the mini projects that you have. It's all incredible and inspiring and I'm wondering, you know, being in this work for so long, But also seeing these solutions on the ground and seeing improvements happen thanks to the work that you and the people that you work with. Do you feel hopeful? Do you feel optimistic about the future? What is your outlook?
[00:56:41] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: I'm always optimistic. I have no choice to be pessimistic at all. So, If I'm living in these communities who just like standing up without any solution coming from the outside, who innovating, who I am who get chance to talk to work leaders to say I'm [00:57:00] pessimistic? I have to be optimistic.
[00:57:03] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: And hold the world leaders accountables, hold the bigger companies accountables, make the voice of my people, of the indigenous peoples, to be heard, and try to push as hard as possible to all the peoples in this planet to be conscious, to fight climate change, to protect our planet in order to protect my people. So of course I'm optimist and that's what drive me every single day.
[00:57:30] Anna Stoecklein: For the people listening who maybe aren't the foreign powers that be, but just your everyday citizen, is there anything that we can do to help to take action, to join you in this fight and cause?
[00:57:44] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Absolutely. We say people got power. Don't neglect your power. Little, big, it is, called power. You can vote for the right person because you get a [00:58:00] voice that can protect the environment, that can protect the climate justice, that can protect the equity inclusions. You can use your voice to hold your leaders accountables. You can also play the role of buying the product that can respect the nature.
[00:58:21] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: Buy what you need. Don't take everything. Eat what you can as locally as possible to do not give the chance of deforestations or destruction of any nature. Use your wording with your family, with your friends. With everyone that you can to protect our nature because you are doing that for yourself also. As my people, protecting the nature that can benefit all the world citizen, what you are doing also can protect all the world citizen, even my people who are far away, who do not know you, who [00:59:00] do not know your country even exist or whatever.
[00:59:03] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: So we have the role to play in this planet. Remind yourself that you are only one species of the nature. We have many things in common. We need to breathe the same air. You can be president or you can be homeless, you need to drink water. You can be president or homeless, you need to eat food. So we need those three things together. So that's mean we get the power together. So use your power, act for the right things. Don't allow peoples to tell you you cannot do that, because I know you can do that. If we are doing it, you can do that.
[00:59:42] Anna Stoecklein: Incredible. Use your power. What a great note to end on. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, thank you so much for your time today, for everything that you do for this planet and the people and all of the living things on it. It has been [01:00:00] an absolute pleasure.
[01:00:01] Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: It's a great pleasure too. Thank you so much for having me.
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[01:01:00] Overdub: This episode was produced and hosted by me, Anna Stoecklein.
[01:01:04] Overdub: It was edited by Maddy Searle. With communications support by Jo Cummings.A special thanks to Amanda Brown, Kate York, and Dan Kendall for their ongoing production support and invaluable advising.💌 Sharing is caring