Lake Turkana, known as the “Jade Sea,” is the world’s largest desert lake. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Sight dotted with islands home to their own crater lakes, Nile crocodiles and one of the world’s largest populations of wild flamingoes.

Central Island

But 90 percent of Turkana’s fresh water comes from the Omo River, recently dammed by neighboring Ethiopia as part of a vast hydropower and irrigation scheme meant to benefit the country’s burgeoning sugar plantations.

Kalokol Village

How will the project affect hundreds of thousands Kenyans who live close to Turkana’s shore, especially the fishermen who depend on it for their livelihood?

El Molo Village

The El Molo people on the lake’s south east corner depend on it for sustenance and their core spiritual beliefs. In the north many of the Dasanach people have been forced to abandon their traditional pastoralist lifestyle because of spreading deserts and climate change and have embraced commercial fishing. Now they ask what will be their children’s future if the lake begins to shrivel up.

Dasanach village and Gabbra village

Will the dam and irrigation schemes in Ethiopia drastically reduce Turkana’s water level, possibly splitting the lake in two, as many hydrologists warn?

Considering the grave environmental threat they face,  coming together has never been more important for the often feuding northern Kenyan tribes.  The Kalacha Cultural Festival lets them share their songs & hope for the future.  This film is co-produced by AKU GSMC, International Rivers, and #SaveLakeTurkana.

Website by Appropriate. Photos by Andrew Tkach.