Indigenous-Led Maps Help Climate Efforts

The world’s first map was created around 600 BC. Today, climate leaders have recognized the importance of maps in empowering indigenous people who, despite often not holding legal rights to land, serve as stewards and important sources of knowledge about changes in the land and climate solutions. 

Maps are useful in making visible the lands that Indigenous people and local communities hold, and maps created with historical indigenous knowledge and perspective are useful in helping Indigenous people protect their land rights, negotiate fair payments for land use, and participate in decisions that affect their lands and livelihoods.

In April of 2022, Daughters for Earth, and organization co-founded by Zainab Salbi, the celebrated Iraqi-American humanitarian, author, and journalist, made its first round of grants to women working on local climate solutions, recognizing both the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on women and girls and the impact they can have on their communities. Among its first grantees are the Ogiek People of Kenya’s Mount Elgon region and their women-led field mapping team. 

The Ogiek women-led team is embarking on a regional mapping project to help re-establish ancestral lands. Inspired by Indigenous communities in the Amazon using maps in court, in 2019, the Ogiek decided to start mapping with support from Digital Democracy and the Forest Peoples Programme. To date, they have mapped thousands of places and significant sites, covering more than 42,000 hectares of their land. 

Across the East Africa region, Indigenous communities remain stewards of their lands, home to unique ecosystems such as primary tropical rainforests, coastal forests, savannas, and free-standing volcanoes. They also face ongoing encroachment on their lands as well as eviction during the creation of national parks and other protected areas.

The Ogiek women plan to extend their knowledge to other regional communities, in the hope of establishing a team of regional experts and leaders ready to bring their mapping  knowledge to more indigenous communities throughout East Africa. 

To restore our climate, we need to powerful work on the ground of these women-led teams, and increasing amounts of carbon removal from the air. Join us at 

For more about women-led mapping in East Africa visit Daughters for Earth.

For more about women’s role in climate solutions see One Earth.

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