The way of life of the people of Lake Turkana has mainly been nomadism. Over the decades, communities have had restricted movement due to established boundaries and faced challenges in their pastoralism from severe climatic changes. This forced pastoralists further into hostile terrain along with the expansion of settlements, forcing the populace to diversify their way of life, giving birth to fish farming, which currently supports about 12% of the livelihoods. Fish farming has greatly changed the lives of people living in the area. It has brought significant employment, infrastructure, and industries developments.
Fish farming in Lake Turkana has become a source of employment for many people in the area. The business has helped to raise living standards of the people enabling them to cater for their day-to-day needs despite the harsh climate experienced in the area, thus empowering people to become more self-reliant.
The hot temperatures experienced in the area have greatly led to food scarcity. Fish farming has provided food to hundreds of families in the area, thereby reducing the famine crisis that has stricken the area for years. Another great stride is the development of industries in the area. These are mostly the ultra-modern fish factories that facilitate the processing and distribution of fish and fish products to the area and other parts of the country for consumption.
One such company is Victorian foods. The company buys fish from fishers and processes the product while adding value at the same time. They produce fish fillets and steam the bones to produce poultry feeds. The company used to be mobile but started operations in Lake Turkana in 2020. Speaking to the company operations manager, Mr. Ebei Paul, the company has significantly impacted the northern county. “This was an untapped opportunity since a lot of fish used to go to waste. We saw the opportunity, and since we had the idea which was supported, we were able to venture into this business,” said Ebei
The development of industries has, in turn, led to the improvement of infrastructure in the area, leading to road construction and communication services. “We are delighted because we can do business in this region. We have received maximum support from USAID and KCIC, and we looked forward to making even bigger strides,” added Ebei. KCIC is focused on changing lives in the Northern frontier counties by supporting SMEs through training, funding, and mentorship. Social amenities such as education and health services have been improved through such support. All this has contributed to improving the lives of the people in the area.
Fish farming in Lake Turkana has also majorly contributed to improving education in the area. Training centers have been established that train farmers and other interested residents on modern fish farming techniques to help them better their farming methods. This has enabled more people to learn and embrace the art of fish farming which could extensively substitute pastoral agriculture, especially when there is an absolute lack of food.
As a result, more people see a breakthrough in their lives by turning to fish farming as an alternative for survival. Therefore it is clear that fish farming has dramatically impacted the lives of the people of Lake Turkana. If embraced and improved, it can change the area and the people’s livelihood and probably help eradicate the problem of famine often faced in the area.