– Turkana Album 1 –
Merier, on the south west shore of Lake Turkana, is isolated and extremely hard to reach on land, yet by boat it connects with a sprawling network of other fishing villages dispersed across the lake’s shoreline. For over a century, these fishing communities have pursued their livelihoods in the world’s largest desert lake, trading fish and skins both with inland herding communities and with dealers who transport dried fish down into western Kenya and central Africa.
In recent years, following the catastrophic failure of a development intervention headed by the Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD) in the 1970s and 1980s, Turkana’s fishing industry has been reformed and reworked by those who sustain it to incorporate new materials and infrastructures. It flourishes where the NORAD scheme failed because, through its dynamism and flexibility, it is capable of withstanding the regular economic and ecological transformations that characterise life around the lake. Despite this, development organisations seeking to strengthen the fishing livelihood in Turkana, whether government-led or otherwise, continue to neglect the rich experience and knowledge of those who live by the lake.