Turkana Race for Resources


Jackie Lebo


Sylvia Okoth


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Producer Sylvia Okoth
Director Jackie Lebo
Completed 2016


In the far reaches of Northern Kenya, an area marginalized since independence, a huge oil discovery has been made. Some of the residents of Turkana are excited by the news of the find. They hope the valuable discovery will bring revenues and much-needed development to the region. But two years after the oil find was announced, the hope has soured into grievance as it appears the oil will go the way of other Kenyan development stories and none of the benefits will be for the locals. For community members in Nakukulas village, where the oil find in the Lokichar basin is centered, the exploration started without their consent. While the land above ground belongs to the community, the Government of Kenya cites a constitutional mandate that gives it custodianship over all minerals found beneath the ground and a development agenda to utilize the resources to best benefit the country. The government has given out licenses for exploration blocks but when the oil companies reach the ground, they find local communities resistant to the drilling on their land. For Mzee Amadole, the presence of well-to-do foreigners with shiny trucks in their impoverished and marginalized land is especially bitter. With the low levels of education and literacy, they may not understand what exactly is going on, but they know it is expensive and they are not a part of it. Conflict with the neighboring Pokot community, who are well armed, has also depleted their livestock and left them destitute. For Ikal Angelei, a passionate young activist from Turkana, ensuring the community gets a fair share of the resources found on their land is paramount. She brought together elders, chiefs and opinion leaders from various Lake Turkana communities to fight against the building of the GIBE III dam on the Omo River, which provides 90% of Lake Turkana’s inflows, in Ethiopia. As a result the World Bank and African Development Bank pulled their support from the dam. Just as the community was celebrating the victory, the oil discovery was announced. The government’s flagship project, LAPSSET , a massive infrastructure project connecting Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia, will utilize the region’s newfound status as an oil and gas hot spot to drive development, but at what cost to local communities?