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!