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.