Chris Wainwright Award For Climate Change
AND I WILL MAKE THE RIVER DRY
Turkana lake - Kenya
The Turkana Lake, is the biggest permanent lake in a desert landscape, and it’s also the biggest alkaline lake in the whole world. As it’s a closed dock, all the water that flows into it evaporates due to the high temperatures present in the area, always increasing also due to the climate changes. The Turkana County, where the lake is located, it’s one of the poorest of Kenya. It’s a semi-arid region that often fights against drought and that takes the biggest part of its supplying from the Turkana Lake. This region has a population of 1.2 million people, the majority of which are fishermen. The Turkana Lake is fed by a single tributary, the Omo River that is born and crosses the homonym valley in Ethiopia. It’s in this context that the huge amount of water, required by existing projects in Ethiopia and that exploit the Omo River, such as the Gibe III dam (the highest dam ever built in all of Africa), and by the cotton and sugar cane plantations, threatens to significantly reduce water levels in the Turkana Lake with the risk of make it disappear completely and to put on its knees the echo-system of the region with economic and social consequences on the indigenous populations. The fishermen complain the lake is not as populated as it used to be a few years ago. Fish is less and less and the shores of the Turkana Lake are shrinking, creating big fields of sand between the lake and the villages. Following the decision made by independent hydrologists, once the development projects in Ethiopia will be completed, the waters of the Turkana Lake will drop some 20 meters. Turkana is a disappearing lake.