Ikal Ang’elei

Friends of Lake Turkana

About five years ago, what began as a part-time research and social media advocacy to save Kenya’s Lake Turkana evolved into a full-time career as a lobbyist, citizen activist, and 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize Recipient Africa, environmental advocate and as the founding director of Friends of Lake Turkana. You can also read about our work in this National Geographic Society profile.
I am an environmental thinker, activist, philosopher of science, and ecological policy advocate with an interest in environmental justice and community rights. I believe that development is for the people, thus development cannot in any way be an injustice to the very people it is for. At an early age, I showed an interest in fighting for human rights, so my interest in environmental justice was really driven by the relationship between human/community rights and a healthy environment—with a link to peace and the ability of people to feed themselves and their families and to provide for themselves. In my advocacy role, I share my passion for understanding ecosystems and their relationship to people, and how communities practice wildlife conservation and ecosystem management in the places where they live.

I believe in organizing young people, with the hope of igniting and inspiring them to step up as leaders and take action on behalf of the planet. I have a strong belief in the role of youth and encourage them to go out and experience their environment and speak out for what they believe in, always looking for what they can do now and for future generations.

I have a particular interest in political ecology, analyzing the politics and human ecology of ecosystem management. My goal is to work toward increasing participation of grassroots groups and local communities in the governance of resources and the decision-making process, as well as the governance and politics of access to natural resources; understanding the interrelationship between politics, good governance, and sustainable natural resource management; and exploring approaches through which sustainable management and improved livelihoods of rural populations may be achieved.

Realizing that I do not have the answers to the environmental dilemma, I have learned to appreciate the role of research, especially participatory research in environmental advocacy. I am pursuing my PhD at the University of Leicester, looking at the political ecology of land-use changes and its impact on pastoralists. I also enjoy working out, and have just resumed running after a long knee injury. I love cooking and trying out new recipes, traveling off-road, and sky watching at night in remote places.

If you are interested in knowing more about my work and how you can become involved, feel free to contact me via email or follow me on Facebook or Twitter, for I would enjoy hearing from you!

Ikal Angelei stopped construction on a $60 billion dam that would imperil Lake Turkana. John Antonelli, photo courtesy of KQED public media.