Kenyan Pastoralists Affected by Climate Change Take to Deep Lake Fishing

Kenya - Fishermen from the predominantly pastoralist community on Kenya's Lake Turkana are being provided the means to boost their livelihoods through deep lake fishing as climate change decimates their traditional way of life.

IOM, with support from the Japanese government is providing fishermen in Kalokol in Turkana Central district in northern Kenya with fishing gear, boats and training to enable them to fish in Lake Turkana's deep waters. Equipment for use by 450 families living on three beaches includes a fibre glass boat for surveillance and rescue operations in case of fishing accidents, 15 timber boats and 500 fishing nets.

Residents of Turkana are predominantly a pastoralist community badly affected by the depletion of their traditional pasture lands due to recurring droughts caused by climate change. The region, already semi-arid, cannot support extensive agriculture while the turbulence of Lake Turkana has largely prohibited deep-water fishing due to unsafe vessels or poor quality equipment. This has resulted in communities being vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition which has in turn led to conflict between various groups over scarce resources.

The fishing community in Kalakol was targeted for assistance by the Kenyan Ministry of Fisheries Development, a key stakeholder in the IOM project. Although the fishermen will be allowed more hours to fish in the deeper waters of Lake Turkana to increase their income, improve their food security and reduce their over-reliance on food relief, the aim is also to set up sustainable fishing in these lesser exploited deep waters.

Kenya's fish markets are largely supplied with fish from the over-exploited Lake Victoria in the west of the country, the Indian Ocean and various fish farms around the country.

The assistance to the fishermen will also enable the largely pastoral community to stay longer in the area, making it easier for them to access health, educational and other social services.

IOM has also introduced other alternative sources of livelihood including growing drought-resistant crops such as watermelon, butternuts, groundnuts and cereals such as millet and cowpeas. The Organization has helped in the construction of shallow wells and water pans for better water harvesting for both domestic and farming purposes.

In a bid to reduce tension among communities competing over scarce water and food resources, including over fishing sites, IOM is also working with communities on peace-building and conflict management. Inter-community dialogue has been established between the Turkana, Elmolo and the Merali community which has migrated from Ethiopia to work out ways of living in peace.

For more information contact:

Nagarajah Rajkumar
IOM Kenya
Tel: + 254 737 861230