Friends of Lake Turkana is the focal point for the East African Indigenous Peoples (IP) Think Tank which has a mission to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues affecting indigenous peoples of East Africa in both national and international forums.
The goal is to work in coalitions and networks to strengthen social movements, especially as we forge multi-cultural, cross-border and cross-focus area alliances. As a think tank our work is unique (in that we are bringing new approaches to social change including the awareness of economic, social and cultural rights) as we work with grass roots indigenous constituencies and help bridge policy think tanks with activist networks and social movements and strengthen the solidarity and cooperation of indigenous organizations and communities in East Africa.
The think tank engages in 4 main areas of interrelated work to encourage indigenous participate in decision making on issues that affect their lives.
1. Movement and Organizational Strengthening- To facilitate and coordinate priority activities and the implementation of a set of programs as well as to carry out information dissemination work in order to strengthen indigenous women’s movements in East Africa.
2. Capacity Building - to assist the East African IP members and networks in strengthening their capacity and skills to address the challenges they face through building organizations, stronger collective leadership, and better organizational management.
3. Indigenous Women- empowering the indigenous women through networking, education and capacity building activities. One of the objectives of this programme is to promote awareness of indigenous women’s rights for them to be able to effectively participate in decision making at all levels, from their communities, to the national, regional and international levels. It is imperative for the East African IP Think Tank to strengthen the mainstreaming of women’s issues and concerns and ensure greater engagement and participation of indigenous women in all the programme activities,
4. Research - This comparative research builds upon academic research and action-researchers in local networks; both indigenous and non-indigenous to critically inform debates on indigenous and customary rights in legislation and policy, both to facilitate local action platforms and to influence law- and policy-makers
Friends of Lake Turkana aims to:
After trying to raise concerns with the staff of the African Development Bank in early 2009, FoLT submitted a complaint to the Bank’s Compliance Review Mechanism Unit in March 2009 . Through this process, the Bank agreed to undertake consultations and a study of the lake. We have also brought information to the people of Lake Turkana, and supported various demonstrations against the dam. On August 26, 2010, we were informed by the CRMU that the problem-solving exercise was ending because the Bank had officially withdrawn consideration from the project.
In March 2009 and January 2010, communities around Lake Turkana held demonstrations opposing the dam. On June 15, FoLT joined protestors in Italy to oppose Italian funding for the dam. On May 21, we co-signed a letter to Industrial Commercial Bank of China which identified our concerns about their involvement in Gibe III dam. FoLT has met with officials from Government of Kenya (GoK), Ethiopian Electrical Power Company (EEPCo), European Investment Bank, African Development Bank, World Bank and the government of Italy to raise our concerns about Gibe III Dam.
We contributed to the proposal compilation of the Conflict and Cooperation over Natural Resources in Developing Countries – CoCooN in Kenya. (CoCooN is a knowledge, research and innovation programme on Conflict and Cooperation over Natural Resources in Developing Countries.)
FoLT's mission is to protect and conserve Lake Turkana, the Lake Turkana Basin and its environment; champion the rights of the Lake's communities and ensure their involvement in decision-making on issues relating to the Lake and its environment; and engage communities in conservation activities within the Lake Turkana Basin and its environs.
Well informed Lake Turkana Basin communities who have control over their natural resources and their use for economically and environmentally sustainable development.
We are committed to the principles of non-violence. FoLT has no political or religious affiliations and is entirely independent.
FoLT does not solicit or accept funding from political parties, nor do we accept any donations which could compromise our independence, aims, objectives or integrity.
FoLT relies on donations from individual supporters; on grants from foundations, like-minded NGOs and international or national development or environment agencies; ethical businesses, from film and photo sales.
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:
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;
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.