Pastoralists, fisherfolk and indigenous communities access to and control over their natural environment; land and water as well as culture has come into sharp focus as it has become clear that the lives of pastoralists or indigenous peoples is anchored on these resources, making access to land and environmental resources equitable is one way to achieve development. This means much dependence on productivity of the natural environment thus the need to protect the environment, increase natural resource governance, communities and biodiversity that depend upon it by linking environmental and natural resource governance, land and social-cultural rights
Between 1st and 2nd October 2012, FoLT held the Integrating Environmental and Natural Resource Governance, Land and Socio-Cultural Rights workshop at the Anne Nanjala Resource Centre in Lodwar Town, Turkana, Kenya. The workshop brought together 70 participants representing local leaders, civil society organizations (CSO's), youth and women representatives, local community members, government departments, UN agencies, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and donor agencies.
This workshop provided an opportunity for the participants to share their experiences and to deepen their personal understandings of oil, extractives, environmental governance and land rights and consider the various dynamics created and how this impacts on opportunities and experiences. Experiences and case studies in this crucial sector were drawn from far and wide including from Ghana, USA, South America, Uganda and the UK. Experiences shared in this workshop included:
Oil Governance experiences and lessons from Uganda and Ghana in comparison to Turkana & Kenyan experiences
TheWorkshop also made some assessments of the current situation in Turkana and Kenya including an assessment of the current community engagement processes in Turkana through Turkana Leadership Forum. Participants would also review the thorny issue of the Gibe III Dam development and its implications on the people and the environment. Participants would also discuss at length how Kenya can develop and implement responsible, transparent and participatory oil and gas policies.
The Workshop also introduced a number of tools, strategies and processes for strengthening the voice of the community in advocacy to address their concerns.
At the close of the workshop, a task force of 6 persons was selected to put together a framework that provides an advocacy platform for the broad Turkana community that reaches the attention of policymakers, philanthropists, thought leaders, and the general public; local, national, regional and international. The task force was responsible for producing the workshop report and will hold a meeting at the end of October to assess progress and chart a way forward.
The report of the workshop proceedengs is now available on this website and can be downloaded in our Documents Downloads section or by simply clicking on the link below.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have jointly decided to inscribe the Lake Turkana Parks heritage site into the List of World Heritage in Danger. This decision is awaiting approval by the World Heritage Committee during their 36th session at St. Petersburg, Russia, June 24 till July 6, 2012.
The decision is based on findings of the joint mission visit to Lake Turkana in March 2012 that identified the dangers posed by Gibe 3 Dam construction and associated irrigation fed plantations and dams in the Lower Omo basin, oil exploration, pressure from poaching and livestock grazing and impacts of other larger developments in northern Kenya. The joint team concludes that these dangers are severe enough to place the Lake Turkana heritage site in the danger list.
Gibe 3 Dam and associated irrigation plans is the biggest danger to the lake. Gibe 3, according to the official Ethiopian website for the project, is 50% complete and it will take 3 years to fill up once completed. During this 3-year period, the water levels on Lake Turkana will reduce by 1.65 to 4m above normal flactuation levels according to joint team's models. But this is not the biggest problem. According to the team's assessment:
After filling is complete and if no water would be extracted from the Omo river downstream of the dam, normal river flow volumes would return to the lake, but it could take 12 years for the lake to return to its equilibrium level. Thus the impact of filling may last 15 years in total. The drop in water levels will move the shoreline of the lake significantly, particularly in the northern part of the lake where two components of the property are located (estimated at 2-3 km minimum at a drop of 1.65 m). This significant drop in lake levels could result in increased salinity and in likely impacts on wildlife which depends on the riparian flood plains and wetland habitats along the lake’s shore for food and breeding as well as on fish stocks as a result of the drying out of major fish spawning areas, such as Ferguson’s Gulf and the delta of the Omo River)
There will also be direct impacts of reduced oscillation due to the dams flood control capacity. Cummulative irrigation projects in the Lower Omo will complicate this matter further. For instance "the Kuraz sugar development is already under construction and there are plans to convert 278,000 ha of land along the river to sugar plantations and other agricultural developments using irrigation. The African Development Bank study cites the Omo-Gibe basin master plan in which irrigation developments by 2024 would use 16% of the basin’s water and calculates this would lead to a reduction in lake level of 8.4 m. This is a significant hydrological change to the lake."
The World Heritage and IUCN team cites many other reasons for inscribing Lake Turkana into the danger list. You can read the section on Lake Turkana in their report which can be downloaded here. Lake Turkana is on page 11 of this PDF document.
On the first day of June, we recieved an alert that the Ethiopian government forces have continued their killing spree aimed at forcing Lower Omo tribespeople out of their land and into the resettlement lands that the government has set aside. This forced resettlement scheme is as a result of the lands of these people having been leased out by the central government to foreign agricultural investments to establish comercial plantations.
There can only be one way to express the pain that these poor people feel about forceful relocation - by publishing the email we recieved unedited.
The Suri, a conglomerate group of the Timaga, Chai, and Balas, are linguistically similar to Mursi and known for lip plates worn by the women. They are cattle herders, as well as cultivators, in their mountains lands to the west of the Omo River.
There have been more recent killings in Suri by the Ethiopian military. Numerous sources have confirmed this. Three Suri had their hands and feet tied and were thrown off the Dima bridge (of Dima town) into the water and drowned. Seven more were found shot along the road. These bodies were left to be eaten by hyenas and vultures.
There have been more reports that others were killed in the bush, but there has been no count of how many. This all is because the Suri are refusing to move into the government resettlement site. The resettlement site has been cleared and demarcated, but no infrastructure work has begun. The Suri are vehemently opposed to resettlement. They say, 'Are we the government's children? If you tells us to move into one place, we just go?'
Last week it was reported that 1500-2000 Ethiopian soldiers were in Suri territory to disarm them. The Suri say this all has to do with the lease of a large section of their land to a Malaysian palm oil plantation.
I would first like to take this moment to honor the efforts and inspiration by the last Kenyan to win this award in 1991, Nobel Laurette Late Prof Wangari Maathai for her efforts through which she linked the day to day struggles and conflicts around the world to how man related with nature; a philosophy best understood by many communities around the world.
I would like to thank the Goldman Family and the Goldman Environmental Prize Staff and all those who nominated me. The situation in Turkana is not a unique one, all around the world governments are destroying environments in the name of development both nationally and regionally, all in the name of geo-politics. We are witnessing as governments destroy the environment to increase their GDP's. And while we appreciate the need to develop, meet Millenium goals by 2015, we agree that we all have to solve the current problems of access to energy and access to employment; we however cannot achieve these at the expense of the environment especially with the availability of alternatives and the reality of climate change.
It’s been 3 years of struggle to defend our environments, a journey that started with one person and one step, but grew to the Omo Basin- Lake Turkana family. Car breakdowns, fatigue that surpassed hunger, threats and abuses, appreciation and recognition, all these and more have been part of this journey. Along this journey I met lots of people both within and outside this country, those who opened up their homes to us, those who joined us in this struggle, those who shared their experiences, mentored me through the journey and even shared their meals.
Ladies and gentlemen, my acceptance and receipt of this award and honor would be not be complete without paying tribute to the Great Chief Chopper and his desendants who are the protectors of Anam Naruko. The many gallant men and women who have made this milestone a reality, the staff and board of Friends of Lake Turkana, the Lake Turkana communities, the men and women who joined us on the streets demonstrating, signing court petitions or seeking redress through political representatives; to our partners both within country and outside the country. Our donors who believed in us to support our efforts, Dr Richard Leakey, Turkana Basin Institute and all scientists affiliated to the institute and to my family and loved ones who offered support, comfort, wisdom and motivation, and most of all the love to make it all worthwhile.
I must admit that I am humbled, honored, and at the same time excited to receive the Goldman Environmental Award. I feel a deep emotion and pride for the honor of having been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa 2012. A deep personal feeling and pride; for the values of the community and the people to which I belong. I consider this Prize, not as an award to me personally, but rather as one of the greatest conquests in the struggle for environmental justice and for the rights of communities.
Early this year our Prime Minister visited us in Turkana where we discussed the government's role in destroying Lake Turkana by signing on to buy power from Ethiopia, all he could say is “Angelei you cannot go on fighting neighboring countries”. A week later, our president, together with the president of South Sudan and Prime Minister of Ethiopia, stood at the coast of the country where our president publicly declared support for the Gibe 3 dam despite our concerns.
He ignored Parliament; He ignored the Omo Basin Communities; He ignored the Lake Turkana Communties.
With the reality of climate change and the destruction of our ecosystems that have served humanity for thousands of years evident before our very eyes, i remember the words of the strong musician and freedom fighter Miriam Makeba “Freedom is not given to you, you must take it”, a call to everyone of us to stand up and take our freedom; the freedom to protect and conserve our environment. To the governments who are compromising the environment in the name of development, we are telling you “ you cannot wish us away”.
To all the unsung heroes and heroines working to protect the delicate balance of nature and sustainability all over the world, you are an example of courage and solidarity, heroes who chose to fight for humanity, whose convictions led them to offer the ultimate sacrifice and suffer purges in their own countries and around the world; who take part in all the important social struggles of their day. Indeed, the environmental crisis is daunting. The work will not be easy. But take heart. To the Omo tribes in Ethiopia and all other peoples around the whorld who struggle for the protection of their environments, has seen some lose their lives or end up in prison, my heart bleeds for you, but at the same time my belief in the struggle gives hope if not to us, to the generations that come after us. As Martin Luther King told us, the arc of history is long but it bends towards justice. We shall overcome. I know that from personal experiences and experiences of those that have gone before us.
Many times people ask me why i do what i do, why we fight for the environment. And taking time before i answer, I reflect on lessons taught to me by my father, i realize that we must trivalize the labor of the past struggle, we must celebrate the gains that have been made while taking inspiration from the struggles to confront the challenges..... and after taking a few moments of silence, I have only one reason why I fight for this environment; I cannot watch as my people struggle for survival only to have scarce water stolen by a government that is supposed to protect them; TO NOT FIGHT IS NOT AN OPTION
With humility and gratitude I accept this award given to me today, While I am not worthy of this honor, I would be lying if I did not recognize that it makes me extremely proud to receive it, for its history and what it means for the commitment to the future of this passionate fight for mother earth as we are reminded by the African proverb that “The earth is not ours; it is a treasure we hold in trust for future generations”.
Our Director, Ikal Angelei, has been announced as the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize Reciepient for Africa in recognition of her tireless effort to save Lake Turkana from the dangers of the massive Gibe 3 Dam being constructed in Ethiopia’s Omo River.
In 2008, Ikal Angelei, who also works with renowned anthropologist and conservationist, Dr. Richard Leakey, learned from the distinguished Kenyan of the construction of what will become Africa’s largest dam along the Omo River in Ethiopia. Ikal immediately recognized that the dam would be the death of Lake Turkana and the end of the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of impoverished and marginalized people in the Lower Omo Basin and Lake Turkana regions.
Ikal started her campaign to stop the construction of the dam which had started in 2006. Shortly, she and likeminded individuals formed the Friends of Lake Turkana. FoLT thus became the vehicle that would spearhead the campaign to stop Gibe 3 on its tracks. In the few years that Ikal and FoLT have campaigned against the dam, we have managed to convince several financing organizations, including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank not to fund the construction of Gibe 3 – which is 40% complete – and convinced the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to issue a communiqué calling for a stop in the construction of Gibe 3. The Kenyan Parliament also passed a resolution requiring the government to demand an independent environmental Impact Assessment of the dam.
Ikal continues to trudge on as she is now pushing for the Kenyan government – which is in agreement with Ethiopia to purchase 60% of the electricity generated by the dam – to get out of the power purchase agreement thus make it unjustifiable for China to continue funding the dam owing to the diminished demand. As Ikal always says, “Aluta continua.”
The Goldman Environmental Prize was created in 1989 by civic leaders and philanthropist Richard N. Goldman and his wife Rhoda H. Goldman to support individuals struggling to win environmental victories against the odds. It is meant to inspire ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the world. The phenomenal Prof. Wangari Maathai – RIP – won this Prize in 1991.
Read more about Ikal’s achievement in this blog post by Peter Bosshard of International Rivers, key supporters and partners of FoLT.
Learn more about the Goldman Environmental Prize in their website.
On this Day of Action against Dams, For Rivers, Water and Life. I salute all who have fought against dams that have destoyed local communities. I tip my hat to you in Burma, bangladesh, Mozambique, Idia, Uganda, Turkey, Paraguay, my fellow Kenyan comrades, and all others all over the world. Our greatest glory is not never falling, but in getting up every time we do.
“Better Late than Never” are the words of Foreign Affairs Minister when asked by the BBC why the Government of Kenya had entered into an agreement with Ethiopia to purchase hydro electric power without an Environmental Impact Assessment on Lake Turkana.
How absurd can that be that a Cabinet Minister can actually show a high level of laxity and don’t care attitude, so if that is the message we are getting from Cabinet, ho then does PS David Stower say there is no impact when officers from his Ministry who went to Ethiopia and came back with a report only spent their time in Sheraton, Addis Ababa and in my knowledge the Omo River does not begin from Addis and what makes me laugh is the fact that a number of officers in that Ministry do not even know that the Omo is trans-boundary and Lake Turkana is a Kenyan lake and is not shared with Ethiopia. How capable is PS Stower capable of giving a statement on that when a senior cabinet Minister claims no study has been done?
From the border towns of Todonyang and Ileret, we came out in large numbers despite the hot sun, and dust rising from the numbers. Chanting "This is our Mau, Leave our Mau alone", the Turkana and Dasanach on either side of the lake came out to the streets of Todonyang and Ileret asking and pleading with government to listen to their cries. As the journey west of the lake went on to Lowarengak where the raid vicitms of Todonyang seek refuge at a time of raids from the Ethiopia- Kenya border. The residents chanted the same message asking the Government of Kenya to stop selling them off in the name of "development". A development that would wipe out our livelihoods, increase our insecurity.All through Nariokotome, Nachukui and Narengewoi, the message was the same "Nakolong awounia akuj akiar ngoni, nyo bo esakia nangolenyang akiar ngoni". (If God did not kill us with the drought, why then does the Government want to kill us?".
We now see what price our government is willing to pay in the name of diplomacy. And i ask what is diplomacy? Is it selling off the right of your people so that the heads of state of the 2 countries can chat over coffee? Is it marginalizing the citizens of your country so that we can have good neighborliness? Is it selling the birthright of the Lake Turkana communities because we think speaking out on a project as it has already began would cause some form of unfriendliness? I don't know what diplomacy is according to my country. But one thing i know is that as citizens of Kenya, the Government of Kenya has a right to protect us. What is the trade off here? The trade off is to sell off the non tax paying Kenyan citizens to get apparently cheaper power, get my word here apparently.