Turkana’s Resilience

Turkana, in northwest Kenya, is the poorest and least developed county in the ASALs (Arid and Semi-Arid Lands). More than 60% of the inhabitants of the Turkana district are pastoralists, so their survival depends entirely on livestock, natural resources for food and daily activities. This condition, in addition to the historic marginalization of the region and the lack of infrastructure, make them particularly vulnerable to any environmental changes occurred between 1967 and today, with the air temperature increasing by about 3 degrees and long periods of drought. In fact long rainy season has become shorter and the annual rainfall levels lowered.
The desertification is expanding bringing drought and famine, giving rise to armed conflicts for access to grazing and water resources causing more than 150 people killed annually in cattle raids in Turkana.
For this reason, so many people would give anything to move to Nairobi for its favourable climate condition and they do, arriving in large numbers in search of a new life. In fact in the last 20 years, the percentage of environmental migrants in Nairobi has increased from 26% to 74%. But of the 4.5 million people who live there, three quarters live in slums.
These people arriving in Nairobi find themselves living in extreme poverty, sometimes earning less than $1.00 per day. Unemployment rate is high, while crime and disease are prevalent and clean water is scarce.
Instead, some pastoral groups (about 10%) pushed closer to the lake. They gradually adapted their lifestyles to fishing, despite previously was not a popular livelihood. Now in this area people life depend directly on fish or fishing. Fishing now is a core part of local livelihoods, and fish are sold regionally – among other places, in Nairobi, the Rift Valley, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Uganda.
Unfortunately their lives are threatened again because of the dam in Ethiopia. In fact because of this dam the level of the lake is getting lower and lower and consequentially poorer in fish.