Fighting for Lake Turkana

Terri Hathaway and Caterina Amicucci
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why Kenyan communities are resisting Gibe 3 Dam

Fishing boats along Lake Turkana
Fishing boats along Lake Turkana
“The lake is our heart."  "We don't want the river to be closed."
                                     - Lake Turkana community members

Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake, supports 300,000 people and a delicate ecosystem surrounded by otherwise harsh and isolated lands. Ethiopia’s Omo River is Lake Turkana’s most precious source of freshwater, providing up to 90% of the lake’s inflow. The Omo’s contribution allows a delicate stability to the water level of the lake, which has no outlet and endures a high rate of evaporation.

The Gibe 3 Dam under construction on the Omo River could cause Lake Turkana's level to drop up to 12 meters, threatening an ecological collapse. Six recognized, indigenous communities - Dasanech, El Molo, Gabra, Rendille, Samburu and Turkana - depend on the lake to support their fishing and herding livelihoods. Many also rely on the lake as a primary source of drinking water and water for household use.

From 23 March to 2 April 2010, Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale (CRBM) and International Rivers undertook a field visit to the Lake Turkana area in collaboration with Friends of Lake Turkana. Fighting for Lake Turkana provides testimony from affected communities and a detailed context about the fragile social and natural environments which could devolve into widespread conflict if Lake Turkana suffers the expected impacts of Ethiopia's Gibe 3 Dam.

More information: 

Watch our multimedia slideshow, Voices from Lake Turkana

Read Travels Across Lake Turkana, a travel blog

Visit our Gibe 3 Dam campaign webpage