As the Human Rights Watch 96 paged report highlights the deteriorating state of rights and limitations to livelihoods in the Turkana County of Kenya, thousands of Turkana herds had already crossed to Uganda in search of grass and water.

For decades, the Turkana pastoralists have been forced by climate change consequences; drought to migrate to Uganda and settle around areas of Kotido, Kaabong and Moroto.
In Moroto, the Turkana pastoralists have challengingly settled at Kobebe water dam, north of Moroto town.

This is largely because the life giving miraculous anomaly of life, the largest desert lake in the world, Lake Turkana is getting attacked by increasing human activities.

2015 has had reports of violent conflicts among the Matheniko and Turkana pastoralists at Kobebe pointing to resource sharing; water and grass.

The Turkana pastoralists move West wards into Uganda during the excessive drought conditions in North Western Kenya.

Recently, reports indicate that the situation in Turkana county will get worse due to Ethiopia`s urge to increase power production in the south at the Omo river using Gibe III Dam. This is said, will reduce the flow and amount of water into Lake Turkana and deteriorate the situation of Turkana Pastoralists. Worse, large scale commercial agriculture, requiring large scale irrigation might increase salinity of Lake Turkana water, making it unsuitable for consumption and fishing.

In the Human Rights Watch report, changing climate has a direct short and long term impact on human rights of mobile populations especially on access to food, water, shelter, security, and health. This becomes worse for marginalized groups like women, and disabled.

The Human Rights Watch report makes recommendation to all stakeholders to act now. The report indicates there is no time left for laxity and mismatch in interventions which perpetuate Human Rights abuses. Importantly, the report recommends the government of Ethiopia to carry out an independent peer review into the Gibe III dam project and its consequent activities.

Additionally, the Turkana people through Friends of Lake Turkana are asking the Kenyan government to review the power supply agreement with the Ethiopian government to consider environmental and livelihoods concerns of the indigenous people.

The Turkana people are also asking the international community to save the life giving water body.

At Karamoja Development Forum (KDF), we think this is important for both socioeconomic and political reasons.

The governments of Kenya and Ethiopia must act fast and provide transparent discussions which positively impact (both directly and indirectly) the lives of Pastoralists groups in Ethiopia and Turkana, whose livelihoods largely depend on the Lake Turkana. The Gibe III dam construction has a direct impact on Pastoralist communities of Rendille in Ethiopia who are increasingly getting pushed away from their areas, exposing them to the Turkana pastoralists. This could lead to struggle for resources and a violent conflict thereafter.

For now, the governments of Kenya and Ethiopia have to listen to the communities that will largely be affected by the developments. This includes over 300,000 Turkana living around the lake.


Readers' comments


Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.