In 2022, a case was filed in Kenya on behalf of members of indigenous Ilchamus and Tugen communities living on the shores of Lake Baringo. Due to flooding, Lake Baringo has doubled in size since 2010. The plaintiffs assert that, as residents of the area, they are victims of climate change-related flooding, which in turn has caused displacement, deaths and harm to property. The petitioners allege violations of their constitutional human rights as well as violations of the Kenyan government’s duties under the domestic Climate Change Act. Drawing on a 2021 government report that identified climate change as the main cause of flooding in the area, the plaintiffs seek to — in the words of their lead attorney, Omondi Owino, “enforce the climate change duties of public officials”.
The petitioners’ motion for the Supreme Court of Kenya to create a three-judge Environment and Land Court (ELC) panel to hear the case was allowed. A hearing in the case — which alleges that government officials “failed, refused, or neglected” to “anticipate, prevent, or minimize” the impacts of climate change — was held on 24 October 2023 at the ELC in Iten. Government lawyers have reportedly contested the claims and the plaintiffs’ claims for damages, arguing that Kenya’s contribution to global climate change is minimal.
Environment and Land Court (ELC) of Iten, Legal Advice Centre T/A Kituo cha Sheria & Anor v. Attorney General and 7 Others, Petition No. 007 of 2022.