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Story Publication logo February 16, 2015

Kenya: The Landscape of Turkana County


Turkana, Kenya. Image by Guillaume Bonn. Kenya, 2014.

Turkana in Kenya’s arid north is the most important place you’ve likely never heard of...

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Turkana County is dry. Hues of yellows and browns paint the landscape, creating a sense of emptiness. But Turkana County, the planet's oldest landscape known to have been inhabited by modern humans, is anything but empty.

Tullow Oil PLC, a British-owned oil exploration company, has discovered an estimated 250 million barrels of crude oil beneath the arid surface. While resource extraction is not expected to begin for several years, the Turkana oil finds have been celebrated. Oil revenue is seen as a solution to poverty in the region, where nine out of ten people live at subsistence level.

But behind the optimistic rhetoric, the prevailing political and security environment in Turkana County is looking conspicuously similar to that which sparked insurgency in the Niger Delta. If left unaddressed, the region could potentially become a theater for oil conflict.

In addition, the environmental impacts, which could include a huge drop in Lake Turkana's water level, could lead to a collapse of local livelihoods and foment insecurity in the already conflict-ridden Horn of Africa. The Lake Turkana area is regarded by many anthropologists as the cradle of humankind due to the abundance of hominid fossils.

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Environment and Climate Change

Environment and Climate Change

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