Running Ethiopia's Omo River can be a serious adventure, as we described here in 2008, but more importantly, the river is a lifeline for those who rely on the water and fish of Lake Turkana, at Omo's terminus. Plans to build a massive hydroelectric dam on the Omo, however, would have changed all that -- were it not for the tenacity of 31-year-old Ethiopian Ikal Angelei. A public policy expert and political scientist, Angelei founded Friends of Lake Turkana and rallied many communities around the lake to rise up and fight the Gibe 3 Dam, which would have been the largest in Africa.
They appealed to the various funding sources, including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank, and demanded that they defund the $60 billion project. While it would serve as a significant power source for Ethiopia and Kenya, it also would cut off local food sources and harm the lake, a crocodile-rich World Heritage Site and an anthropological hot spot.