Meet Mariama Abdoulaye Ide, a geological engineer and visionary entrepreneur from Niger, who has emerged as a leading figure for change in the battle against climate change. Her journey is about more than just the mitigation of environmental challenges; it is a deliberate effort to secure a sustainable and prosperous future for her community. Through her commitment to nature and sustainable development, Mariama has positioned herself as a leader, educator, and advocate for agroforestry products.
Mariama’s journey began in 2014 and was triggered by the alarming disappearance of oases and forest trees in her village. This pivotal moment ignited her passion for environmental protection and propelled her into action. Motivated by a desire to effect meaningful change, Mariama embarked on a mission to address the urgent challenges posed by climate change in her community.
Marainama at its E-Himma store
Driven by her commitment to instigating change, Mariama founded the E-Himma platform. This innovative initiative encourages the cultivation and sale of forest products, with a strong emphasis on education as a key driver. Through E-Himma, Mariama aims to empower her community not only with sustainable products but also with knowledge regarding the importance of agroforestry in the face of climate change.
Mariama’s dedication to her cause is evident in her participation in various entrepreneurship, leadership, and climate change programs. From the Dow-YALI RLC Dakar Challenge 2021 to LOJIQ-Canada 2019 to IVLP-AWEP-USA 2018, Mariama has broadened her horizons and gained insights into global solutions to climate-related challenges. She has also equipped herself with the tools needed to implement effective change at the local level.
“Difficulties exist for those who don’t believe in their dreams, and every problem is a lesson learned on the road to greater success.”
Though her initial focus was on economic development, her participation in the Impulsouth Solutions Lab process inspired her to undertake local production of various agroforestry products. The Lab underscored the importance of sustainable practices as a route to economic development, and this was a paradigm shift for Mariama.
After receiving training and funding as part of the Solutions Lab in 2022, she began planting systems combining trees and vegetable species. Her tangible accomplishments, such as the broadening of the E-Himma platform in terms of products’ disponibity and suppliers, speak volumes about the effectiveness of her approach and the impact of her initiatives.
When speaking to young people, Mariama shares the undeniable truth that “the earth doesn’t lie.” She advocates for using knowledge to cultivate the land and insists that a degree alone does not guarantee a better future.
Solutions Lab Project: E-Himma Platform
In Niger, more than 100,000 hectares of land are degraded each year due to several causes, including climate change. Agricultural yields continue to decline year after year. For example, according to the Niger government, agricultural output dropped by 50% in 2021. As a result, more than 80% of the population living in rural areas and depending directly on that land are facing starvation and poverty. The E-Himma Platform was launched in 2019 to help the population fight against these problems. The platform promotes forest products of plant origin (everything that comes from bush trees), honey, and agroforestry through education and product sales. Forest products have always been overlooked, since their virtues and different uses are largely unknown, yet they are a real source of fertilizer, food, and wealth creation, not to mention allies in the fight against soil erosion and weather changes throughout the year. The objectives are to maximize the benefits that forest products and agroforestry bring to the population by providing information, training, awareness-building, networking and product sales. E-Himma includes a general website and ecommerce page (launched in 2019); a voice server for information, awareness, and aid; and agroforestry fields or “witness fields” that serve as a model or museum and employ women who do not have access to land.