Environmental threats and human rights in Turkana, Kenya
Climate change and development projects are threatening the health and livelihood of pastoralists and other local people in the Turkana Region of northwest Kenya, according to a Human Rights Watch report released in October 2015. The report and accompanying video were presented to environmental and human rights groups in Nairobi prior to climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany, on 19–25 October 2015.
The 96-page report “There is no time left: climate change, environmental threats and human rights in Turkana County, Kenya” highlights the increased burden facing the Government of Kenya to ensure access to water, food, health, and security in Turkana Region.
Turkana County, with a total population of ca 1.2 million, is among the poorest regions in Kenya. Most residents are pastoralists, herding cattle and goats, and fishers in Lake Turkana. Between 1967 and 2012, maximum and minimum average temperatures in Turkana County rose between 2 and 3°C. The long rainy season seems to be becoming shorter and drier and the short rainy season longer and wetter.
At the same time, hydroelectric projects and irrigated sugar plantations in Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley threaten to lower the water levels in Lake Turkana. The combination of climate change, large-scale development and population growth poses an urgent threat to the people of Turkana Region.