On May 2, 2011, a raid took place leading to the death of over 50 Turkana’s and 4 Dasaanach, and whilst the accusations and counter accusations went on, many of us could not ideally pin point what the cause was, while some termed loss of lives as cultural practices. The stories were narrated and narrations changed as the media highlighted this to the rest of the nation and the world, this was just but one of the massacres that have become part of the daily narrations within Turkana. With the various demonstrations taking place, discussions hit the corridors of power and there were parliamentary sessions to discuss the massacre in Todonyang, we had some security personnel brought over who pitched camp at Ng’itira, the border of Kenya and Ethiopia.
In the last few days I have taken myself back to the Todonyang incident and the noise that came out of that massacre, it was enough noise to get Right Hon the Prime Minister to fly up to the area with a high powered security team, it got top level ministers a meeting in Ethiopia. But were the issues of contention discussed?
The illegal encroachment of the Ethiopian Daasanach within Kenyan territory and causing mayhem to Kenyan citizens is first an issue of concern among the local residents. Some among them had once believed they could stay within our borders because we are pastoralists and have even inter married, and trade among each other but now the dynamics have changed. After the attacks, a team of security personnel, elected and administrative leaders toured the area and found the beacons have been brought down……mmmmmmhhhhh. This raises a lot of questions, because I would not see a reason why a nomadic pastoralist would want to bring down a beacon that he has no idea what it is and why it is there.
It is viewed that there is a positive development with the fact that the leaders of the two countries have recently been holding talks aimed at making their borders more secure, with the management of the transboundary resources; Omo-Turkana basin being a key part of these discussions, yet a very important piece of information regarding the large sugarcane plantations along the Omo River by the Ethiopian Government seem to have been ignored. From research, sugar cane plantations use lots of fertilizer and with such huge tracts it means all the phosphorus flows down to Lake Turkana leading to an irreversible catastrophe and exacerbated conflict.
So when I think about it, with a receding lake – water conflict, an increased delta which lies within the Kenyan border; a breeding ground for fish which is an area of conflict with the Dasaanach claiming ownership, current incitement by traders who provide a market for the Ethiopian Dasaanach, we now ask is Todonyang a land of contention thus the bringing down of the beacons?, leading to discussions of experts coming to clarify border lines (and we all remember the same discussions with Migingo). And with the security personnel moving away from the border and to the AP’s camp located behind the community residence within the Church compound, I am caught up in this quagmire wondering with all these conflict, and continued tensions, Todonyang residents still displaced by fear and living in Loarengak, a belief that our government has an obligation to us as Citizens of the Republic of Kenya, and an available intelligence unit, the Todonyang residents constantly crying “Inyo esaki nang’olenyang nayok na lo Kenya aniyok” ( what does our government really want from us), "Anipekesakete akiyok ngoni kimiek kiyoko ng'ipakae lukec" (If they don't want to protect us, at least let them protect their borders) and I ask Who is fooling who on the dealings along the greater Lake Turkana Basin?
It’s been 3 years of struggle for environmental justice, resource rights and community rights on the Lake Turkana basin, and it’s been a journey of struggle and triumph, harsh reality and pure hope. 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 me, those who joined me in this struggle, those who shared their experiences, mentored me through the journey and those who shared their meals. The child who oblivious to what was going on came and tagged on my hand, giving me a sense that I was home, friends whose interaction on the social network no longer remained just virtual friends and I put a face to the name and later a persona to the name; Persons who become a very important part not only of my work but my life too, bearing the burdens and sharing the joys
It’s been a journey of burning the midnight oil, being bitten by insects, walking by the snakes, dancing and celebrating and appreciating the famous Lake Turkana fish; Nile perch or Tilapia, always making a great meal. Meetings with opponents that eventually saw people who sat across the room, cross over and offer support, friends who started in this struggle with me, move on and pick up struggles closer to home. It’s been a journey of local, national and international struggle, and it has equally been one of local, national and international celebration. And even if they were small celebrations, those are the ones that have given us the strength to face tomorrows challenge.
And with all this, there comes a time, when one realizes that one's accomplishments and unique journey through life have been made richer by the presence of those who have touched not only one's body, but also one's mind and one's spirit.
This lens is dedicated to the many gifted and gracious people who have left an incredible if not indelible impression upon me for which I shall be eternally grateful. To those who brought me into being, to those who have inspired me along my path, to those who have seen me angry and understood in silence, for those who I have ranted at and they excused me, to those who have seen me cry and allowed me to break down, to those who offered comfort and those that have joined me in the laughter, to those who have shared a meal, and shared the last drops of water. To those who have shown moral support, and in their own ways celebrated our victories or aired our concerns; To those who were there for me and taught me valuable lessons about what truly matters, to the loved ones who offered support, comfort, wisdom and motivation and most of all the love to make it all worthwhile.
I want to thank you all so much for being part of my journey and making this continued journey for social justice all so worthwhile.
There has been some welcome news on the Campaign front to Save and protect Lake Turkana, the basin and its ecosystem in recent days. First The UN’s World Heritage Committee recently called on the Ethiopian government and Chinese financiers to suspend the Gibe III Hydropower project to fulfill their obligation for the protection of Lake Turkana’s world Heritage Sites.
Additionally, on Wednesday last week, Kenyan Parliament unanimously passed a resolution that Government of Kenya should demand that Government of Ethiopia halt construction of Gibe 3 dam on River Omo; a transboudary river until a Comprehensive, Independent Environmental Social Impact Assessment be undertaken. News of the construction of Gibe 3 led to local, national and international campaigns, demonstrations and online petitions and meetings across the globe that led to withdrawal of funding by potential donors who were considering financing the dam.
For three years, we have been lobbying, and negotiating for our government to come out clearly on the concerns we had raised on the Gibe 3 dam construction on River Omo and its impacts on Lake Turkana’s ecosystem, its people’s livelihood and persistent security concerns. After years of raising issues and tirelessly sending information packets to Members of Parliament, across the political divide, a private members motion was brought to the House by Dr Wibur Otichillo and supported by MPs from the region and beyond.
These two events are very significant because pressure is not only coming from the community and international activists but also from the UN and our own policy makers through the parliament. As a dear friend always refers to this campaign as a Walk of a Thousand Miles; yes this is a walk of a Thousand miles and we are still far from the finish line. And while we see various instances of our government whose obligation is to protect its citizens, air them out as collateral damage and short changing them; In one sense it may seem like things are getting worse yet instances of hope and revolution are all around us; locally and nationally, where lake residents together with fellow Kenyans have taken to the streets demanding for government to recognize and protect their rights.
Despite these small victories, there is still much to be done. We need to put pressure on the government to understand our concerns are valid and founded on studies undertaken and the longer they play diplomatic games and bilateral agreements, they are playing Russian roulette with the lives of their citizens.
Sometimes our struggle seems endless, but little by little we are building a movement to defend our rights and search for environmental justice. Reflecting back on my first demonstration, lobby meeting, international presentation; I learned something new about myself and the world: “I am an individual, but also I am part of a community that pays more than its fair share to society. The struggle gives me a new meaning in life.
We are touched by the Kenyans for Kenyans initiative; a very commendable effort by fellow Kenyans. And while these efforts continue around the country, government and aid agencies need to appreciate why failed rains are triggering such recurrent crises, and they need to have both long-term and as short-term solutions in mind.
The malnutrition rates may be alarming, but they are not unique to 2011. Nor are the crowds of hungry, tired people that patiently gather each day around government buildings and distribution points. The adaptive strategies that had made life possible within the Turkana basin for so long have been gradually eroding for decades. The pastoralists of the greater Turkana basin had one strategy above all others for surviving drought; Mobility. As local water points dried up, they would move into Uganda, South Sudan or deeper into Kenya, to find water and grazing for their livestock. With livestock, pastoralists had food security. They could boost their diet with wild fruits and replenish lost livestock by raiding neighbouring tribes, and this way, survive the cycles of drought.
Today, with climate change, environmental degradation, water and pasture is being depleted many, many times faster than nature can replenish it, sharp increase in human population, proliferation of arms among all the neighboring communities coupled with change in lifestyle and limited mobility.
We cannot deny, Turkana certainly still needs development aid and still needs support. However, do we need aid and support for our development so that tomorrow we need even more, or so that tomorrow we need less? We need aid and support but we don’t want to need it forever; We want to have it so that We are enabled to stand on our own feet. I am not saying anything new. We want to be supported so that we can finally stand on our own.
The point is aid should not be one that creates dependence but one that ultimately leads to independence. Aid also has the disadvantage of eroding the dignity of the recipients; when you depend on somebody that person will dictate to you and will decide for you. Therefore, Turkana’s and the citizens of the greater Northern Kenya are no less human beings and deserve no less dignity than others have. Therefore they must struggle to reach a point where they are able to be masters and deciders of their own destiny and we wouldn’t achieve that by being dependent on aid and those who donate it. I am not talking about the date or the point at which aid should stop, but are more interested in the process and the understanding that we should be moving the direction of partnering with people to give us support in the path to getting out of that situation.
We would like to source for and increase opportunities for investments. Investments, because they unlock the energies, creativity, and innovation of people because they feel empowered and in control of their destiny. With investments there are no dictates like the ones we find in the relationship between the recipient and the donor agencies or political heavy weights, which erodes heavily on dignity. Moreover, nobody is locked out of the benefits; even an ordinary herdsman in a rural setting with increasing levels of investments can get good incomes from their animal products; that is why we prefer investment to aid.
And the situation will only start to change when our government shows the political will to seek for lasting solutions for the region. Dealing with the constant insecurity, and building infrastructure that will allow the region to open up and allow the region to grow. Ultimately, enabling interventions that reinforce social networks, support conflict resolution, strengthen advocacy work, encourage education and promote viable urban and rural livelihoods.
Thomas Hobbes was a champion of absolutism for the sovereign but he also developed some of the fundamentals of European liberal thought: the right of the individual; the natural equality of all men; the artificial character of the political order; the view that all legitimate political power must be "representative" and based on the consent of the people; and a liberal interpretation of law which leaves people free to do whatever the law does not explicitly forbid.
Hobbes said life is “short and brutish”, and this is the truth in the weary eyes of all members of the Turkana community in spite of the giant strides that the world has made since that statement was made in 1640.
We have demanded severally for the government to provide security for both property and people and what we get are threats of disarmament to a community faced with life threatening danger every day of their lives. Meanwhile the bureaucrats and politicians continue their empty rhetoric at the expense of women, children and men who don’t know whether they will be able to enjoy their freedom. It seems that it is not yet uhuru in Turkana County.
It is this mindset that has made previous peace meetings and programs in this county futile. According to Hobbes’s wisdom we are in a social contract with the state which should protect us. Although it may be assumed that Turkana people enjoy walking around with guns, they don’t. They also want to enjoy peaceful co-existence with their neighbours and to go about their businesses and lives just as any other Kenyan in Nairobi’s Lavington or Buru Buru suburbs or any other town without the fear of impending death because of the absence of government.
If for any reason the government is unable to provide these basic assurances and rights as enshrined in the constitution, they should say so and enact a policy that empowers the County of Turkana to provide security for itself and its people instead of writing protest letters and always reacting after tragedies. People were killed in Todonyang’ a few months back and the government came to bury them in mass graves and wipe the tears of the survivors with promises of a few bags of maize. The maize was promised but it never arrived. The promise of increased security also seems to have been a pipe dream. Without understanding and addressing the fundamental problem bedevilling this region, we, the people, shall remain in an insecurity quagmire.
After a few days Kenyans forget about massacres and concentrate on political rallies and the trial of the ‘Ocampo Six’ at the Hague and forget that the invaders still reside some fifteen kilometres inside Kenya and continue denying citizens their rightful security and the right to enjoy that which is theirs. Meanwhile in Turkana County, invaders with total disregard of our sovereignty continue to maim and kill while at the first sound of gunshots, the government security scamper into police helicopters and fly to safety leaving unarmed villagers to their demise.
Thomas Hobbes believed in the right of the individual; the natural equality of all men; the artificial character of the political order and the social contract where we as citizens surrender our rights to the sovereign to provide equal rights and security to all - rich, poor, weak or strong. The people of Turkana County demand this justice.
"We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children."
Has it come to this again? The Government of Kenya (GoK) is sitting back and waiting to be invited to analyze the current destruction on the Omo River, while Government of Ethiopia(GoE) asks them to await communication.Meanwhile, concerns are being raised locally and across the globe, as the Omo tribal peoples are arrested for their opposition to all these forms of development that will not only destroy the environment but totally destroy their livelihoods turning man against man as the tribes fight for limited resources, these destruction transverses the borders into Kenya. At what point do we relate their opposition to the concerns raised, considering their opposition to the projects lie on the same shared resource; The Omo River. Shouldn’t these be enough to get them out of slumber? The silence by our leadership, both President Kibaki and Right Hon Raila is appalling. Our own PM sat across PM Meles Zenawi at an Energy conference in Oslo discussing all the other sources of energy that Kenya is trying to invest in from Solar, to wind and geothermal, and while he rightly understood the issues around hydro-power and especially large hydro projects and with the shrinking water bodies around Africa and the world, he fell short of telling Meles, “buzz off…..it’s a shared river, and you cannot go around bulldozing other people”. That is the leadership we need, where we are not ruled by geopolitics, and bilateral agreements that are made at the expense of the fellow citizens, those who you count as potential votes. Right Hon. Raila himself declared in Feb 2010 that Kenya can no longer depend on hydro-power yet Ethiopia is more drought prone, and with all the ecosystem changes leading to destruction of the ecology and hydrology of the largest desert lake in the world; Lake Turkana which lies in Kenya as well as the entire Omo delta, a breeding ground for fish.
Pondering through the recent developments along the Omo-Turkana basin, I remember the words of Prof Wangari Maathai “It is not as if leaders do not understand the impact of the unjust political and economic systems which are promoting environmental degradation and promoting a non-sustainable development model. When will such business be considered unacceptable in the world community?......Africa’s challenges are being tackled at different levels, and some successes have been recorded. But not fast enough. The concepts of sustainable development, appropriate development models, and participatory development are not foreign. We are aware that our children and the future generations have a right to a world which will also need energy, should be free of pollution, should be rich with biological diversity and should have a climate which will sustain all forms of life.” This seems so true when I look at our Kenyan leaders, and I realize that most people take water for granted. It seldom comes to mind that water has economic value which, in today’s circumstances, is overwhelming its social value. It is even less common to think of water as a political issue. With the continued fight against the construction of Gibe III, while arms of Kenyan government ignore both local and global concerns of the impact of Gibe III dam and subsequent Gibe IV and V downstream, and as if that is not enough, the sit back don’t care attitude as further sugar cane and cotton irrigation projects are undertaken, which will use up the water. We know the impacts of such large irrigation projects and especially water thirsty crops such as sugarcane and cotton, where the exaggerated use of water which affects the human and animal life and causes direct and indirect negative impacts on terrestrial and marine ecosystems as well as changing the course of rivers towards these over 200,000 ha of plantations, draining the downstream flow of the Omo river and further destroying an already vulnerable ecosystem, livelihoods and totally altering the chemical balance of Lake Turkana, as well as creating a sense of resource insecurity among the communities, which exacerbates the resource conflicts in the region. All this is happening while our government sits back and awaits an invitation to Ethiopia to “diplomatically” discuss the use and management of River Omo, we seem to always believe what GoE claims, with no question or concern. All the while, we have brought to our government’s attention the current undertakings within the lower Omo as tracts of land are cleared to start off the irrigation plantations, keeping in mind that it is not news to them, we have shared the GoE strategic plan to use the Omo River with the Ministry of Water, Northern Kenya, and various relevant governmental bodies, yet they sit and await an invitation letter. Quite worrying especially when our government makes statements regarding other countries policies that have absolutely no impact on us, yet we cannot speak up on issues affecting our own people; further clarification that to serve in GoK, one’s qualifications should be convenience; how conveniently one handles matters; where you see what you need to see, read what you need to read, and declare what is needed to be declared, bottom line being the convenience of the issues and who is it convenient for being the underlying factor.
While we dance and declare ourselves democratic; following the will of the people they call it; Myan Mar and Burma despite their political status have shown in the recent weeks to be more democratic than Kenya; Oh Yes, Myan Mar’s President Thein Sein, told Parliament that he had to listen to the desires of his people and suspended the Myitsone dam, as the Burmese government followed suit as it was a project cutting across countries. These are countries that very few people have regard for but they have taken a bold step against China, who every nation seems to fear, while China threatens to take them to court. I would think that is what representing the people means, being democratic and standing by the will of the people is all about, unless in Kenyan terms; by the people, for the people and representing the people means hydro-politics and geopolitics of resources at the expense of the same people.
Loiyangalani is named after the Sesbania Sesban shrub that grows abundantly near water. The town lies on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana and is inhabited by people of diverse cultural backgrounds. The ELMOSARETU – an acronym that stands for Elmolo, Samburu, Rendile and Turkana – is the main ethnic group in Loyangalani. The ELMOSARETU are largely pastoralists with a few being fishermen. A few Meru and Somali people run most of the businesses in the town.
Loiyangalani is a unique magical place where all these different ethnic groups coexist with minimal conflict. It is intriguing to see people from different ethnic backgrounds switch from one language to the other during conversations. The people clearly share more than language.
Permanent villages characterized by traditional huts have developed as more and more drop out of their nomadic lifestyles due to chronic cattle raiding and persistent drought. This new population of villagers has taken long to adjust to their more sedentary life and have developed a dependency on relief food.
These sedentary settlements have led to increase in population putting more pressure on the natural environment as they haplessly clear the scarce vegetation to meet their fuel and building material needs.
Loiyangalani has the potential to attract local and foreign tourists as it is endowed with a rich heritage, rugged scenery and the lake. Between the 1980s and mid 2000s, tourism flourished in Loiyangalani with tour operators like the Turkana Bus and Gametrackers Safaris organizing tours. Air Kenya’s Sunbird also operated regular flights from Nairobi to Loiyangalani’s Oasis Lodge. The towns unique herigage and scenery earned it a place in the award winning 2004 movie, “The Constant Gardener” that was based on the novel by John Le Carre.
These tourism activities became a source of income especially for the Elmolo – one of the smallest tribe in Kenya. Tourism also spurned the growth of the cottage industry with locals producing handicrafts to sell to tourists and job opportunities such as local guiding sprouted. Today, all these glorious days are nothing but history. Insecurity, political instability, poor insecurity and the global recession are seen as the main contributors to the decline of tourism in Loiyangalani. Despite all these troubles, the jovial mood of the people remains. “As long as there is drinking water, life goes on,” they say.
Lake Turkana is the main source of livelihood and supports the economy of the town. Most villagers are involved in the fish trade. They mostly trade in dried fish from the lake and their main market is in Kisumu and Busia on the shores of Lake Victoria. In fact, these two Lake Victoria towns are virtually the only markets for the fish thus creating a situation where they can dictate the price.
The fish industry has the potential to boost the local economy and by extension the living standards if properly harnessed. Poor management of fish marketing cooperatives, such as the Loiyangalani Fishermen Cooperative Society has been an impediment that needs to be addressed.
Loiyangalani is also attracting energy investments. The largest investment so far is the giant wind farm, the Lake Turkana Wind Project that is expected to be the largest wind farm in Africa and one of the largest in the world. We need to ensure that the community benefits from this development and it does not go the way of the Turkwel Hydropower Project which contributes to the national power grid and never benefits the local people.
As the northern districts of Kenya begin to attract investment, including oil prospecting, greedy elites have started grabbing land in speculation. Some of these elements have even encroached into water catchment areas that should be conserved to serve the entire community.
There is hope of reigning in these acts of impunity as the educated youth of the region, equipped with knowledge gained in dialogues facilitated by FoLT, are taking on the woud-be land grabbers through educating the public about their rights. One of the avenues they are using is theatre.
Without water, there will be no Loiyangalani, and without this magical town, the people of Lake Turkana will be worse off. That is why FoLT will continue to support the youth in their agenda.
A new network uniting indigenous women organizations in East Africa is in the offing following a successful convening of representatives from these groups in October 2011 in Nairobi. This meeting, convened by the Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT) and the United Nation Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) provided a unique forum for indigenous women to exchange ideas, experiences and strategies to address the problems that they commonly face and eventually create a network for indigenous women in East Africa.
Indigenous women in Africa have lived in marginalization and isolation all their life. Even as all indigenous groups face the same challenges, indigenous women have to face extra obstacles not only in the wider community, but also within their own marginalized communities – making them the marginalized of the marginalized. With this realization, this meeting sought to strengthen indigenous people’s cohesion and unity on issues of common interest with the end goal of ending marginalization and a focus on the special disadvantages that indigenous women and their organizations face.
Without unity of purpose, women issues are generally not taken seriously. The situation is worse for indigenous women. As a result of the absence of significant unity, indigenous women have found it hard to actively participate in important decision making in their communities and in larger forums. As a result, their issues have not been addressed when political decisions that affect their developmental and livelihood needs are made. With unity, indigenous women leaders will be able to bargain for their share of the decision making process and their voices will be heard in the highest tiers of community since their constituent authority and freedom will be recognized.
During the indigenous people’s convening, women and men shared their stories and perspectives on the validity of a unified forum bringing together the various indigenous peoples groups and building on the strength of women leadership. The meeting thus agreed that FoLT would facilitate the establishment of a strong network of indigenous women’s organizations in East Africa. FoLT founder and director Ms Ikal Angelei will chair the steering committee that will work out the modalities of the formation of this forum.
Further, once the indigenous women have formed a forum, they will seek linkages with the international forum of indigenous people as a way of sharing experiences and strategies as they quest for their hopes, concerns, self-determined development and livelihoods.
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.”
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the first issue of the FoLT Newsletter. We started Friends of Lake Turkana in 2008 with the initial purpose stopping Ethiopia’s Gibe 3 Dam and saving Lake Turkana from the likely drying out that this mega-dam would cause. FoLT was registered in 2009 and in the last three years we have fought environmental injustices, violation of community rights and threats to our diminishing natural resource by both natural and man-made causes.
Through this quarterly newsletter we will offer you a connection with the Lake Turkana basin. For millions of people around the world, a degraded natural environment means hunger and chronic poverty that costs lives – Lake Turkana basin is no different. FoLT’s struggle in the Lake Turkana basin is in pursuit of environmental justice, resource use rights and community rights. It is a fight for our basic human rights to live and to use our natural resources not just for this generation byt also for the future. It is a fight for the right to preserve and protect pristine natural areas that we borrowed from our children and the right to be heard when we put forth our agenda. This newsletter will highlight these struggles.
Through our struggles as Lake Turkana communities, we are saying that it is no longer acceptable for perceived development to be undertaken at the expense of human rights and ecosystems that have served us for centuries. It is no longer acceptable for governments to treat us as second class citizens with the perception that our livelihoods do not add much to the GDP. It is no longer acceptable for communities who are not directly affected by our challenges to turn a blind eye to our pleas and cries.
We cannot risk losing the momentum of illuminating environmental injustices around the world. We at FoLT are committed to ensuring that environmental justice, natural resource use rights and community rights stay high on the political agenda, and that decision making that affects environment and natural resources is based on solid science and the rich indigenous knowledge of our people. Decision making will be based on good principles of governance and it will reflect the perspectives of the communities within the Lake Turkana basin.
To you our readers, we invite you to join the struggle for a healthy environment. Sometimes it is as easy as signing a petition calling on governments to guard ecosystems. At other times, the commitment to justice will require us to lie down on the asphalt on behalf of communities that are not our own. Either way, by recognizing the connection, we shall be better prepared to act when necessity calls.
Finally, as we start the year 2012, I, on behalf of the Friends of Lake Turkana, would like to wish you all the very best, pleasant, rewarding and prosperous year ahead.
Happy New Year!