THE ISSUE AT HEART: TURKANA COUNTY, KENYA
Turkana is one of the world’s poorest regions: The average income is 1.66 $ per day, most people live as shepherds or fishers. Many of them endure hunger on a daily basis and face serve consequence due to malnutrition. Especially children suffer from developmental impairment, reduced ability to fight infections and bad wound healing among other problems caused by the lack of healthy food.
The major cause
for malnutrition is the extremely hot climate and the lack of fresh water in most parts of Turkana County: The average temperature is about 35 °C, the annual rainfall is only between 115 -650mm and the water of the County’s biggest water reservoir, Lake Turkana, cannot be used for watering plants – it is too salty and too alkaline. But these extreme environmental conditions fit perfectly Spirulina’s needs. Thriving Green sees the opportunity to enable the poorest of Turkana County to live a self-sufficient life and to develop a material existence by growing Spirulina.
Turkana County is a territory which undergoes fast transitions. Some of them are positive – for example the improvement of infrastructure in capital Lodwar or the discovery of oil. But most of them are alarming: Climate change worsens the condition, both for people and their livestock, more regular droughts are expected; the fragile ecosystem of Lake Turkana is endangered by overfishing and the Ethiopian dam Gib 3 holding back the water of the Omo River. Lake Turkana could share the fate of Central Asia’s Aral Sea – the livelihood of tens of thousands of fishers could be destroyed. Rising salt concentrations and pH level are already killing some fish species.
This short glimpse at the future of Lake Turkana illustrates the desperate need to find new ways of food production. Thriving Green’s Spirulina is certainly one of the most promising: Fast growth under conditions which are deadly for most organism while offering a tremendous nutritional value.