Authored by Brad Czerniak

Lake Turkana is Kenya's largest lake, renowned as the world's largest desert lake, with 90% of the lake's inflow provided by Ethiopia's second largest river system, the Omo Basin. The natural hydrological cycle of the Omo / Turkana ecosystem is being dampened by a cascade of major hydropower developments, and in addition, large-scale irrigation plantations downstream will exploit the regulated river flow, and thereby deplete the natural river inflows to the lake. Local people utilize the lake resources, living in harsh conditions. The Lake's desert margins include the only archaeological conservation area in Kenya, gazetted as a National Park (on the NE shore). Southern parts of the lake fall within the Mount Kulal Biosphere Reserve, listed in the UNESCO Biosphere Directory. Lake Turkana National Parks are a listed World Heritage site. Ethiopia's huge Gibe III hydropower dam started impounding its huge reservoir in early 2015. Over 30,000 hectares have been cleared downstream in the Lower Omo for sugar plantation, and at least 100,000 hectares are planned. The lake level has already fallen two metres, and the local fishing industry has already suffered the consequences. The lake's hydrological history will be described, and the recent hydrological changes and the physical impacts will be presented. This lake has been likened to an African Aral Sea in the making.