The Dassanech community inhabit the Illeret region while the Turkana are found in Nakechichok and on the west of the lake. The Dassanech and Turkana are pastoralists and among the most marginalized people in Kenya, having virtually no control over the changes that are impacting their lives. They derive their livelihoods mainly from natural resources-pasture, water, vegetation, livestock and some fishing. However, reduced access to these resources has increasingly placed these pastoralist communities under intense pressure. As a result, they constantly find themselves fighting for their survival.

TBI recognizes that communities around us have a wide range of needs, including education, income generation, health, environmental and cultural conservation.

In an effort to foster healthy community relations The Turkana Basin Institute works closely with the local communities through local committees at both field stations. Through these committees projects are put forward, student bursaries are awarded and volunteer teachers are paid. The Turkana Basin Institute also helps to raise support and awareness for the community and has taken on two coordinators to oversee this important aspect.

TBI’s strong and valued relationships with the local communities are the foundation stones upon which our vision is based on. We believe people are the primary actors in their own survival and development so to achieve this we work in partnership with the communities and in alliance with other organizations. We respect and celebrate diversity both within the communities’ we work with and within our own organization.

The staff at TBI are mostly drawn from the immediate area, mostly including:


On the western side of the lake, the neighbours to the field station on the Turkwel laga are a community of Turkana. A local committee has been established on the East, which facilitates the relations between TBI and our neighbours. TBI has hired several Turkana as fossil hunters and staff to encourage all communties surrounding the lake to work towards conserving their natural heritage.


Due to the proximity of the east side field station to Ileret town, TBI has been able to work closely with the Daasanach from this area since 2007 and individual projects such as teh Koobi Fora Research Project (KFRP) have worked with members of this community training them up to be exceptional fossil hunters. More recently, four of the workers in Illeret have also been trained in cleaning fossils.


Several young men from Marsabit have worked as fossil hunters in recent years and have been very successful. Abdub Sharamo found an important specimen two years ago on his first season working with the Koobi Fora Research Project. It is hoped that additional members of this community will participate in the activities of TBI, both as fossil hunters and preparators.