Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT) became the first organization to win the Spread the Love Environmental Award in the inaugural Spread the Love Honors Night in Nairobi in August 2011. FoLT received this award in recognition of the commitment to conserve the Lake Turkana Ecosystem and champion for the rights of the people of Lake Turkana and the Lower Omo Valley – specifically the fight to stop the construction of the Gibe III Dam in Ethiopia.
Ikal Angelei, FoLT’s founder and director also made the runners-up in the Conde Nast Traveller’s 22nd Annual Environmental Awards. Ikal was one of three runners-up in this prestigious award that was won by Andres Villas-Boas who’s dedicated more than 30 years of his life in the protection of the Amazon Forest
With Ikal’s leadership, FoLT has won several battles in the war against Gibe III Dam. Ethiopia started constructing this dam in 2006 in a rush ignoring the requirements of a proper environmental, economic, technical and social risk assessment thus violating both Ethiopian and international laws. What drove Ikal to start FoLT, however, was the risk that this dam posed for Lake Turkana’s fragile ecosystem and the ultimate destruction of the way of life of hundreds of thousands of fishing and pastoralist communities in the Lower Omo and the lake.
Since the formation of FoLT, Ikal has led her small team of volunteers to victories far beyond imagination. Within 3 short years (FoLT was founded in 2008), lobbying by this small team had caused the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank to withdraw funding from Gibe III; made the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to write officially to the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments calling for a halt in this development; and seen the Kenyan parliament pass a motion instructing the government to demand that Ethiopia stop the dam construction until an independent and comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is conducted and gives the project a clean bill of health.
While receiving the Spread The Love award – adorned in traditional Turkana beads – Ikal said “I am only one, but I am someone. I cannot do everything, but I can do something… What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.”