Apr. 17 (GIN) – When a proposed hydroelectric project threatened the water lifeline to hundreds of thousands of indigenous farmer, herders and fishermen, 31 year old Ikal Angelei decided it was time to stand up.

Uniting the divided and marginalized indigenous communities of Lake Turkana, she set up a grassroots organization to fight against the mounting environmental and social implications of the Gibe 3 Dam. She informed elders, chiefs and opinion leaders–all of whom had not heard about the dam–about the project and its implications.

In 2009, the groups issued a “Lake Turkana People’s Declaration” against the project and Kenya’s Parliament took notice. Angelei successfully convinced major banks, including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank, to withdraw their considerations for financing of the Gibe 3 Dam.

Currently, the Gibe 3 Dam is 40 percent complete as the Ethiopian government is struggling to secure additional funding.

Ms. Angelei will receive the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize at a ceremony this week in San Francisco and at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Activists from Asia, Africa Europe, an island nation, North, South and Central America will also be honored at the two ceremonies. w/pix of I. Angelei