17 April, 2012

Kenyan Lilian Ikal Angelei Wins Environmental Goldman Prize 2012

Lilian Ikal Angelei is probably little known in her backyard Kenya however for the people of Turkana she is an acclaimed  recusant fighting for the rights and the voice of the voiceless community against formidable financial institutions and Governments that have little or no regard for the welfare of the people dependent on Lake Turkana for their livelihood So who is Lilian Ikal Angelei one of the the recipients of the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize : the worlds largest prize honoring grassroots environmental activist?
Who is She?
For one she is the founder and a Director of Friends of Lake Turkana  a non profit engaged in the conservation of the Lake Turkana especially against the recent proposed development and Construction by the Ethiopian  Government of the Gibe 3 Dam along the River Ormo, the source of 90 percent of Lake Turkana’s water. The Gibe 3 Dam, if completed, would be the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa, and the fourth largest in the world and it is expected to cause the lake’s water level to drop by as much as 23 to 33 feet within the first five years, depleting fish stocks and depriving communities of a critical source of potable water in this desert environment.

This development is likely to heighten resource conflicts and poverty between the communities largely dependent on the lake for their livelihood.

What She Has Accomplished So Far !

Apart from winning this prestigious award and recognition, Lilian Ikal Angelei has been true to her cause helping the marginalized communities living in the Turkana region to stem the ominous tide heading their way by successfully convincing major banks, including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank, to withdraw their considerations for financing of the Gibe 3 Dam. The Dam is almost 40 percent complete at present and her gallant efforts have necessitated the Ethiopian government to seek additional funding elsewhere.

 So far only ICBC, a large commercial bank from China, has approved a $500 million loan for the dam’s equipment . Ikal has held the bank to account for its destructive project in the international media, and continues to do so. Even in China, ICBC’s decision is now being considered a case of lacking corporate social responsibility. A few weeks ago, the Chinese government directed its banks to align overseas projects with “international best practices” on social and environmental risks.

She is at present lobbying the Kenyan Government to pull out of the project as Kenya was slotted to purchase one-third of the electricity generated by the dam.For this she is to be lauded as a heroine with much foresight.Indeed while the desire to generate and increase the capacity of the Ethiopian Government to provide electricity is a beneficial venture, it must be done in an Eco friendly and sustainable manner taking into consideration the needs of the communities dependent on the Lake Turkana for their livelihood.

Congratulations Ikal Angelei continue voicing the voices of the voiceless  majority!

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