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Turning the Tide for Africa’s largest Coastline

By Fatima Jibrell

In this guest blog, Goldman Prize winner — and African ‘shero’ — Fatima Jibrell (2002, Somalia), pictured above, gives an update on a new program developed by her organization, African Development Solutions (Adeso). With support from our pilot grantmaking program, Adeso is restoring Somalia’s fragile coastline, a critical ecosystem for people and wildlife alike:

Although Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, the country is better known for its decades of conflict than for the quality and variety of its marine resources. After years of civil war and lawlessness, it should come as no surprise that the country’s coastal resources have fallen prey to illegal fishing, hazardous waste dumping, and dynamite and cyanide fishing. Unfortunately, Somalia is now better known for its piracy than its fishing exports, as portrayed by Adeso’s Goodwill Ambassador Barkhad Abdi in the 2014 blockbuster Captain Philips.

The destruction of mangroves for charcoal has further destabilized the coastal environment and destroyed fish habitat, as recently highlighted in a situational analysis commissioned by UNEP.

Despite the ban on the export of charcoal in the Puntland region of Somalia which I helped push through in 2002, charcoal production and export has devastated mangroves along coastal towns in the region. The consequences of this destruction are enormous, and range from harming human livelihoods and food security to intensifying the destruction of the coastal environment and fisheries. Charcoal production and trafficking are also the main drivers of conflict between communities in Somalia, and since it provides cash to insurgents, it has also become a security threat and a major impediment to peace processes at the village, national, and regional level.

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