Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT), is a grassroots organization founded in 2009 whose mission is to foster social, economic and environmental justice in the Lake Turkana Basin.
This is through:
- Protect and conserve Lake Turkana, the Lake Turkana Basin and its environment.
- Advocate for the rights of the Turkana Basin communities,
- Increase the participation of communities in environmental protection policy formulation, sustainable management and wise use of natural resources, & lobby for increased participation of communities in the development andgovernance of their resources
FoLT was co-founded by Ikal Angelei and some concerned Kenyans who became privy to information that Gibe III dam in Ethiopia was being built on the Omo River which is a shared river between Kenya and Ethiopia was a project of unacceptable trade-offs between the 2 countries, and would jeopardize indigenous economies, destroy ecosystem and exacerbate conflicts. It was founded in November 2008 and received fiscal and office support from Turkana Basin Institute . FoLT worked and continues to work closely with the people of Lake Turkana and advocates on their behalf. FoLT was officially registered under in the Ministry of Lands through the Trust Act in October 2009
FoLT’s initial undertaking was the campaign to conserve and protect Lake Turkana and its ecosystem as well as protecting the rights of the Lake Turkana communities by campaigning for the halting of Gilgel Gibe III dam until certain conditions had been met. The conditions included;
- The conducting of a Comprehensive and independent Environmental Social Impact Assessment (Which was questionable because the project commenced in 2006 and the published EIA was done in 2008)
- Demonstrating that there is free, prior and informed consent of the affected tribes to the project;
- All impacts to Lake Turkana and the Lower Omo have been fully documented and analyzed by independent experts, and public hearings held in Kenya on the expected impacts;
- A participatory process has been undertaken with downstream communities, including those in Kenya.
It was while undertaking this campaign that we identified the lack of community awareness of their rights, the policies and obligations of state and non state actors. During community meetings that we created partnerships with grassroots community based organizations, beach management units (whose mandate is within the lake beaches), local leaders and various community associations and realized the need for the FoLT to take up other roles that would expand its operations within environment and resource rights and governance of the Turkana Basin.