NEW YORK (JTA) – An American Jewish World Service-funded project in Kenya won a Goldman Environmental Prize.
Friends of Lake Turkana, founded and run by Kenyan Ikal Angelei, aims to combat the ongoing construction of Gibe III, a dam in southern Ethiopia that provides significant electricity production benefits but which activists say causes the retreat of Lake Turkana, an increase in lake salinity, and harm to marine life and the indigenous economy. Anti-dam activists say it also may cause possible border problems in Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya, an already volatile area. Lake Turkana runs from southwest Ethiopia into Kenya.
The prize winners announced Monday in San Francisco each receive a $150,000 award. Philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman established the prize in 1989 to recognize grass-roots environmental heroes. Each of six world regions has an annual winner.
AJWS President Ruth Messinger said in a statement that “Ikal Angelei has achieved what many thought was impossible. She brought together Lake Turkana’s deeply divided and marginalized indigenous communities to speak with a unified voice to thwart this project that would block their access to water and destroy their livelihoods. And because of her genius, major banks, including the World Bank, have withdrawn their considerations for financing the Gibe III dam.”