As the world urbanizes and industrializes, and as effects of climate change intensify, environmental crises will increasingly devastate the lives, health, and livelihoods of people around the globe. A lack of legal regulation and enforcement of industrial and artisanal mining, large-scale dams, deforestation, domestic water and sanitation systems, and heavily polluting industries can lead to a host of human rights violations. Activists and ordinary citizens defending their rights to land and the environment may face intimidation, legal harassment and deadly violence. The primary victims of environmental harm are often impoverished and marginalized communities with limited opportunity to meaningfully participate in decision-making and public debate on environmental issues.
In Kenya, on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana, archeologists have found the oldest ancestors to modern humans in the region. However, today, Turkana County is home to a rapidly growing population that is among the poorest in Kenya and is facing increasing difficulty in accessing water, food, health and security. Turkana County has long experienced periods of cyclical drought, but new climate patterns, combined with threats to Lake Turkana from hydroelectric and irrigation projects in Ethiopia, present immediate and long-term dangers to the lake and to the growing number of people who depend on it for survival. It also serves as a case study for marginalized communities around the world that are suffering from climate change.