There is No Time Left (Human Rights Watch) (October 2015)

Climate Change, Environmental Threats, and Human Rights in Turkana County, Kenya

Climate change, in conjunction with a rising population and large-scale development projects in Ethiopia, are undermining the ability of Kenya’s indigenous Turkana people to access water, food, health and security. “There is No Time Left”, based on research and interviews conducted with pastoralists in Turkana County, Kenya, highlights the increased burden facing the government of Kenya, and other governments, to progressively realize human rights amidst rising temperatures and increasing extreme weather events.

The report describes how climate change has placed pressure on water resources, resulting in less dry season grazing land and diminished livestock herds, while hydroelectric projects and irrigated sugar plantations in Ethiopia’s lower Omo river valley threaten to vastly reduce the water levels in Lake Turkana. As a result, Turkana pastoralists told Human Rights Watch that every day was a struggle for survival for people and their livestock. Women and girls interviewed said that they often had to spend more time walking longer distances to dig for water in dry riverbeds. Parents said that their children become sick because their families are unable to provide them with sufficient food and safe water for drinking and hygiene. Turkana fisherfolk feared that diminished water levels would decimate fish stocks, and the source of livelihood for 300,000 Turkana residents.

Human Rights Watch calls on the government of Kenya to develop climate change policies that protect the basic rights of the most marginalized populations. The struggles of the Turkana people are also a reminder for governments in the region and around the world to ensure that human rights becomes a central element of future climate change policies and agreements.