meet the ipacc team

Dr. Kanyinke Sena

IPACC Director

Dr. Sena is an Indigenous person from Kenya with a Doctorate in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy from the University of Arizona, USA. After completing his doctorate, Kanyinke returned to Kenya and is currently a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Egerton University, Nairobi.

Between 2006-2010, Dr. Sena acted as IPACC’s regional representative of East Africa, and in a career built around indigenous peoples and issues, has served as a member and chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a member of the African Commission Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and a consultant for the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Facility, the UNREDD+ Program, and Conservation International among other international organizations. Dr. Sena is therefore an expert of indigenous peoples issues and laws at the local, national and international levels.

Dr. Sena has a particular interest in the interaction of energy and Indigenous peoples, and has written multiple papers on best practices in energy projects and on the impacts of large scale energy projects on Indigenous peoples rights. Learning from his experiences with community energy projects in North America, Kanyinke has become an avid advocate for community-led energy projects in Africa for Indigenous livelihoods.  Specifically, he is heavily engaged in the Rights and Partnership agenda in Africa.

congo basin

Leonard Fabrice Odambo

Regional Representative for Congo Basin

Odambo is a Bakoya Pygmy Indigenous person from Gabon. He is the founder and president of the first indigenous organisation ever founded in Gabon, MINAPYGA. . Odambo is a trained journalist and one of the only Pygmy peoples in his community to receive a higher education.

At a grassroots level, Odambo has been particularly involved with Indigenous Peoples living in Waka National Park. Through cooperation with IPACC, Wildlife Conservation Society, Waka Park Administration, his organization MINAPYGA has supported the local villagers to self-organise so that they may engage in management and decision-making of the Park, and address issues associated with living in remote areas,  including lack of employment and the presence of foreign timber companies. Odambo is passionate about the use of state of the art 3D participatory mapping to help produce evidence of the traditional lands and resources in order to effectively engage in debates about how lands should be managed.

Odambo has also travelled across the provinces of Gabon to meet with indigenous leaders and activists to raise awareness and spread knowledge of their rights, notably the rights of indigenous peoples as recognised by the United Nations and the African Commission of Human Rights and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

Gender and Climate Change Representative for Congo Basin

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is an indigenous woman from the Mbororo pastoralist community of Chad and is is an expert in climate change adaptation and mitigation for Indigenous peoples, traditional knowledge, and women and climate change in Africa.

Active within her community and country, she is a Coordinator of the Peul Indigenous Women and Peoples Association of Chad (AFPAT), a member of the Technical and Scientific Committee for the UNESCO Chad BIOPALT  project, and a member of the REDD+ RPP Chad National committee. Over the past five years she has organized annual workshops in Chad on the topics of science and Traditional Knowledge, and she has also undertaken work on a 3D participatory traditional knowledge mapping project in collaboration with UNESCO, IPACC, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, Conservation International, and the Chad government.

On an international level, Hindou is the Co-Chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), Co-Chair of the Pan-African Climate Change Justice Alliance (PACJA), Policy Board Member of the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Partnership (UNIPP), member of Indigenous Peoples Major Group for SDGs (IPMG-SDGs), Coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples’ Pavilion for COP, and a founding member of Marrakech Partnership on Global Climate Action. Hindou is also one of 14 National Geographic Emerging Explorers for 2017.

Jean Nganga

Deputy Regional Representative for Congo Basin

Jean Nganga is a Bobi Indigenous Activist from the Republic of Congo. He is the head of the National Network of Indigenous Peoples of Congo (RENAPAC), a network of 14 Indigenous organizations.

He is also the President of the Association for the Defense and Promotion of Indigenous Peoples (ADPPA), a member organization of IPACC and the only Indigenous organization in the Republic of Congo. Under his leadership, ADPPA has partnered with the Congolese Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH) to conduct a successful project, “Promoting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through the Strengthening of the Indigenous Movement in Congo and the Institutionalization of Indigenous Representation.”

Jean has also discussed and shared his powerful work in international forums, such as the IPACC Addis Ababa meeting.

east Africa

Jane Meriwas

Regional Representative for East Africa
Jane Meriwas is a pastoralist Samburu woman from the Kipsing Plains in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. At the age of nine, all nine of her family’s goats were eaten by hyena’s while she was herding. Having proven to be a poor herder, her father dumped her in school until a suitable suitor would come along, to which she could be the second, third, or fourth wife, and that would pay a bride price that could earn her father more goats that the nine that were gone. But attending school ended up saving Jane from early marriage, and after completing college, she returned to her community to create awareness and speak out against issues of Female Genital Mutilation and Child Early and Forced Marriage. She is a true local rights activist, and has started her own organisation, the Samburu Women for Education and Environment Development Organisation, which pays for the education of of girls to protect them from early marriage and FGM. Meriwas is also leading a movement for alternative rites of passage for Samburu girls. Jane has also spoken on these issues at an international level, such  at the United Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO),  and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).

Agnes Leina

Gender Representative for East Africa
Agnes Leina comes from Samburu County, Kenya. She is a member of the Samburu community – a subset of the Maasai peoples – who are pastoralists clinging strongly to their traditional way of life. Agnes is the Founder and Executive Director of Il’laramatak Community Concerns (ICC), whose name denotes ‘care-givers’, or ‘pastoralists’. ICC is an Indigenous People’s Organization whose main goal is to restore dignity among Indigenous peoples, with a special emphasis on women and girls. Locally in Kenya, Agnes sits and serves in six primary school management boards and is a Director at the Anti-FGM board of the Government of Kenya. As both a social scientist and human rights defender,  she is a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Forum for Indigenous Women (FIMI) and has presented various research papers concerning indigenous girls and women at forums at the United Nations level, such as at the UNFCCC, UNFPII, UNCSW, and preparatory meetings to contribute to the text on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  (UNDRIP).

Shoba Mohamed Liban

Deputy Regional Representative for East Africa

Shoba Mohamed Liban is an Indigenous woman from Isiolo County, Kenya. She is a founding member of Pastoralist Women for Health and Education (PWHE), a local NGO in Isiolo, and currently works as their Programme Manager.

Shoba is passionate about uplifting future generations, and thus also serves on the Board of Management in local secondary schools in Isiolo County, and is the Director of the Anti Female Genital Mutilation Board (AFGMB), protecting young girls from the harmful practice.

Engaged both at the grassroots and national level, Shoba is also a National ASAL Committee member (ASF), a platform for stakeholders working in the 23 ASAL Counties of Kenya, designed to bring together Government, UN agencies, development partners, NGOs and the private sector, in a forum modeled to give voice and ensure inclusivity and collaboration. Shoba constantly yearns to learn more about how she can help her community, leading her to earn a Degree in Project Planning and Management as well as a Diploma in Public Relations, Diploma in Community Development. She has also taken many other short courses in administration and social development work.

North Africa

Handaine Mohammad

North Africa Regional Representative and Chairperson of the Executive Committee

Dr. Mohamed Handaine is an Amazigh Indigenous person, born in the Chtouka region of southern Morocco. He is a teacher, researcher, doctor of history, writer, and specialist in indigenous issues in Africa, climate change, and biodiversity.

Dr. Handaine has been among the leaders of the Amazigh Cultural Movement since the 1980s and  has published several books on Amazigh history and culture. He was one of the founders of the Amazigh World Congress as well as the Geneva-based World Civil Society Forum in 2002. In 2006, he founded and became president the Francophone Aboriginal Coordination (CAF). He is also president of the Confederation of Amazigh Associations in southern Morocco (Tamunt n Iffus) and Director of the Center for Historical and Environmental Amazigh Studies (CEAHE).

Most recently, Dr. Handaine has been selected as the Africa Representative for the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages (2019).  He has a rich history of involvement in UN process,  participating in many UNFCCC COPs and CBDs over the years, engaging with issues of climate change and biodiversity in relation with traditional knowledge and Indigenous peoples.

Zahia Rabb

Gender Representative for North Africa

Zahia is a Kabyle Indigenous woman from northern Algeria committed to protection of the environment, climate change, and building the capacity of her local community in the village of Iguersafene on ecological issues.  Her grassroots work as a member of the ALMA association, an association striving towards environmental sustainable development, and Vice President of ALMA Iguersafene since 2015 has been very impactful, with the village of Iguersefene even being elected as the “cleanest” village in the Kabylie region.

Zahia is also engaged  in issues of Indigenous rights and environment at national and international levels. She has participated in a number of meetings in her home country of Algeria, as well the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNFPII) in New York, the Expert Mechanism of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Geneva, and many United Nations Climate Change Conferences (COPs).

Hicham El-Mastouri

Deputy Regional Representative for North Africa

Hicham is an Amazigh Indigenous person from Morocco with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Management from Moroccan university. In 2017, he also graduated from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Indigenous Fellowship training program. He has participated in a number of human and indigenous rights trainings around the world.

In 2015, he was elected as the head of training and foreign affairs, and member of Federal Bureau in Tamaynut, an NGO focused on Indigenous rights. He has also represented his community in an expert workshop to review the mandate of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP).

Hicham has used his education, training, and experiences to help empower and build the capacity of young Indigenous peoples. For example, he coordinated a project on parity and gender equality with the IEMED Foundation (European Institute of the Mediterranean). He is focusing his future work on creating a magazine for indigenous children and a radio station.


Joseph Itongwa

Regional Representative for Great Lakes

Joseph is an indigenous Walikale person from the North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He founded his own organization, Shirika La BAMBUTI, whose work he coordinates in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema. The goal of the organization is to defend the human rights of the indigenous pygmy peoples of the Bambuti on cultural, social and economic, fronts.

Joseph is currently the coordinator of a Member group of the ICCA Consortium: the Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems (REPALEF), based in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 2091 he has also been a member of the technical committee of a similar network that covers the whole of Central Africa (REPALEAC).

Joseph has been the director or coordinator of several local and provincial organisations defending human and indigenous peoples’ rights. As such, he has represented indigenous peoples in international meetings of the UN, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the World Bank.

Vital Bambanze

Deputy Regional Representative for Great Lakes

Vital Bambanze, an Indigenous Batwa from Burundi, is a Former Senator representing the Batwa in the Burundi government. Founding member of the  ‘Unissons-nous pour la Promotion des Batwa’ (UNIPROBA) that works to promote and protect the Batwa peoples of Burundi, he is also a Member of REPALEAC (Réseau des Populations Autochtones et Locales pour la Gestion Durables des Ecosystemes Forestiers d’Afrique Centale). Vital has taken part in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Indigenous Fellowship Programme, and since, he has taken on several high level positions as an Indigenous advocate, such as being Chair of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in GenevaFrom 2011-2012, and appointed by the President of Burundi as the Batwa Representative to the National Land Commission.  Vital Bambanze has a degree from the University of Burundi in African Languages and Literatures. He speaks French, English and several African languages such as Kirundi, Kinyarwanda,  and Kishwahili.

Southern Africa

Diphetogo Anita Lekgowa

Gender Representative for Southern Africa
Anita is a San woman from Botswana, born and raised in the settlement of Khwai village in the Okavango Delta. She co-founded the “Tane Ko Teemahane Women’s Foundation” in her village, with the mandate to empower Indigenous women and youth livelihoods through culture and traditional knowledge. She also serves as the Vice Chairperson for the Nhabe museum, which teaches about and preserves the culture of the North Western District of Botswana. Most recently, she has initiated the creation of an open air historic village museum for tourism that is helping economically empower her community. It is Anita’s mission to simultaneously improve and protect the traditional lifestyle of the her people. She has also represented Indigenous peoples at national, regional and international levels, such as the South African Development Community (SADC) Forums,  United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York and  the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Geneva.

Gakemotho Wallican Satau

Deputy and Youth Representative for Southern Africa

Satau is a Khwe San Indigenous person from the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Satau was one of the most prominent Indigenous leaders in the process of inscribing the Okavango Delta as the world’s 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site. He helped ensure that the process recognised the various minority ethnic groups of the territory, including specific recognition of the San peoples (Khwe and ||Anikhwe) as indigenous to the territory and having important cultural heritage landscapes inside the core zone of the site.

Satau has a particular interest in preserving and utilizing traditional knowledge and has presented on the topic on many occasions, and on diverse platforms around the world. For instance, at the 7th Pan African Literary and Reading Conference he presented on the topic “San Art of Tracking as a Science”, and at the University of Umea in Sweden, he presented on “Development in Information and Research vs. Indigenous Knowledge.” In his work on the Okavango World Heritage site, he emphasised that the San are rich in traditional knowledge, including tracking and nature monitoring skills and they should be engaged in the day to day conservation of the delta.

West Africa

Mohamed Ewangaye Didane

Regional Representative for West Africa
Mohamed Ewangaye is a Tuareg Indigenous person from Niger. From 1992 until 1999 Mohamed joined the Tuareg armed struggle, over which time he served as a Member of the FLAA External Relations Department (AÏR Liberation Front and AZAWAKH), Deputy Secretary General of the People’s Liberation Front of the Sahara (FPLS), General Secretary of the ARC (Coordination of the Armed Resistance) in charge of Development, Finance and International Cooperation, and Executive Secretary of the NGO PRODECAP-SADAD (Promotion and Development of Agro-Pastoral Economics). He later served the Niger High Authority for the Consolidation of Peace (HACP), for which he is currently the Technical Advisor. He has also turned much of his focus on academia, completing a Masters Degree in African Studies (Culture and Society) at Stanford University, as well as a Masters Degree in African Studies (General History) at UCLA. At the moment, he is doing a History PhD with a focus on  Nilotic and Abyssinian presence in the Tuareg civilization.

Sada Albachir

Gender Representative for West Africa

Sada is a Tuareg Indigenous woman from Niger, whose training and life as a nurse has led her to become an avid Indigenous women’s health advocate, and founder of organization, TUNFA.

TUNFA is located in Agadez, and aims to promote social protection, good living conditions and the health of the surrounding indigenous peoples (Fulani, Bororo, Toubous and Tuareg). The organisation is widely supported by these communities, and Sada is seen as an inspirational leader.

Sada is also vocal about other issues facing Indigenous Peoples, and has spoken at various international platforms, such as at Climate Chance in Agadir Morocco, in 2017.

Dicko Hanafi

Deputy Regional Representative for West Africa

Dicko is a pastoralist Indigenous Fula man from Burkina Faso. He is a retired technical officer of the Ministry of Animal Resources of Burkina Faso, and focuses his advocacy and work on the deep relationship between nature, animals, and humanity in the pastoralist way of life.

He is the President of the Association of Traditional Breeders in Sahel (Dawla Sahel), which is involved in defending the rights of traditional pastoralists in national development policies and in strengthening the resilience of farmers to climate change. In this position, he has has conducted multidisciplinary research on the communication of seasonal rainfall forecasts to farmers and agro-pastoralists in Burkina Faso in collaboration with the General Directorate of Meteorology of Burkina Faso. He has also participated in these issues at an international level, such as at the United Nations Forum on Climate Change COP21 in Paris, France.

Mary Simat

Former Chairperson of the Executive Committee

Mary Simat is an iconic part of IPACC. During her time as Chair, she was a true leader, who led IPACC to integrate gender and women’s empowerment into our work. Without Mary, we would not be the organization that we are today.

Mary is an Indigenous Maasai women who is a champion for the rights of women and girls in her community. Her fearless fighting for these rights has earned her the title “dangerous woman.”

Mary was the first ever Maasai woman to run for chief, against eighteen men. Despite being the only candidate who was literate, she lost. Mary is inspired to keep fighting by her mother, who made the difficult decision to divorce her husband (who disapproved of educating Mary) and moving away to be able to send Mary to school.

Mary is now the founder and Executive Director of MAWEED (Maasai Women for Education and Economic Development), which teaches the importance of girls education and builds the capacity of women to be able to economically empower themselves.

Council of Elders

The Council of Elders is made up of former members of the IPACC Executive Committee known for their commitment and their presence in the indigenous movement. Their mandate in the executive committee may be over but they continue to play an important role in representing indigenous peoples, provide expert advice and support, and carry a significant institutional memory of IPACC and its work over the years.

Jennifer Koinante Kitarpei

Jennifer is a Yiaku indigenous woman from Kenya with extensive experience and expertise in the areas of conflict management and preventive diplomacy, teaching and education, forest governance, human rights advocacy, and community mobilization

After an extensive teaching career, Jennifer founded and became the Executive Director for Yiaku Laikipiak Trust, an organization that promotes and protects the fundamental rights and freedom of indigenous peoples in Kenya.  She has also been a member of her districts Education Board, District Peace Committee, and is the founder of LACET College Teachers Training, a teachers college that provides capacity building for teachers across her county and the nation at large.  She fought hard to gain a government political position to be able to represent her people in decision making institutions, and became an Hon. Member of Laikipia County Assembly.

As the current Africa Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition, she provides tutelage in fostering sustainable efforts for forest conservation in Africa. She supports support the work of the Global Forest Coalition in ensuring the eradication of tree Monoculture plantations and leading a campaign for the reinstitution of the rights of forest dependent communities to land and forest tenure.

Hassan Id Balkassm

Hassan was one of the founders of IPACC, and IPACCs first Chairperson. He is an Amazigh Indigenous person from Morocco who has shown incredible resilience in his fight for Amazigh human rights since the 1970s.

In 1978, at a time when Amazigh rights were not yet recognized by the Moroccan constitution, Hassan and a few other young Amazighs founded Tamaynut Association, with the goal of restoring Amazigh linguistic and cultural rights. From then, until 1990, he was prevented by the Moroccan government from having a passport. In 1982 he was imprisoned for writing in Tifinagh, the ancestral alphabet of the Amazigh people. In 1985, he survived being shot, with his baby son in his arms, through the window of his home. Despite all of this, he became one of the founders and Vice-President of the Amazigh World Congress (CMA) and was among the key initiators of the famous Charter of Agadir in 1991, by which the Amazighs made known, for the first time in the history of post-independence Morocco, most of their grievances and their cultural and identity claims. He internationalized this struggle through his participation in The Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

After being imprisoned for writing in Tifinagh, years later after hard fought struggle, Hassan  became the first to ever speak Tamazight at the UN. He now sits on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).

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Indigenous Environment Defenders.

Africa’s hunter-gatherer and nomadic pastoralist peoples have lived symbiotically and sustainably within Africa’s ecosystems for millenia. Their Traditional Knowledge Systems are treasure houses of indigenous knowledge.

Under colonialism, African hunters and nomads suffered land dispossession and cultural oppression. In the post-colonial era, they’ve advocated for their land, cultural and human rights.

Now, in this Age of Climate Change, Africa’s hunter-gatherer and nomadic pastoralist peoples are recognised as frontline guardians and managers of African biodiversity, and provide early warning for climate change trends.

We appeal to African governments to formally recognise the Traditional Knowledge Systems and practices of hunters and nomads.


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