Change it self does not destroy a culture. All societies are constantly evolving. A culture survives when it has enough confidence in its past and enough say in its future to maintain it's spirit and essence through all the changes it will inevitably undergo. —Wade Davis
Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley is home to roughly twelve indigenous tribal groups all living self-sustainably. Most practice flood-recession agriculture, and depend on the river’s natural flood cycle to replenish their land for farming and the grazing of livestock.
Ethiopian government contracts have been awarded to foreign construction firms to build hydroelectric dams on the Omo River for energy exports. The Gibe III Dam, the largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, is now operational, and is depriving all downriver communities of the annual floods necessary to sustain their flood-recession riverbank agriculture.
The Omo River's flow terminates at Kenya’s Lake Turkana and supplies 90% of its water. The entire watershed of the Omo River Valley and Lake Turkana is now under threat. Lake Turkana was recently inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites ‘in danger’. In addition, vast tracts of rich farmland have been leased to foreign corporations to grow cotton and sugarcane—all for export. Land grabs and villagization are displacing the Omo River communities, forcing them off their ancestral lands without compensation. They are no longer able to be self-sustaining.
For more information on the environmental, political and human rights issues facing the people of the Omo River Valley and Lake Turkana watershed, please visit the following non-profits.
Further Reading on the issues facing the watershed of Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley and Kenya’s Lake Turkana.
Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide. We scrupulously investigate abuses, expose the facts widely, and pressure those with power to respect rights and secure justice. Human Rights Watch is an independent, international organization that works as part of a vibrant movement to uphold human dignity and advance the cause of human rights for all.
International Rivers protects rivers and defends the rights of the communities that depend on them.
Oakland Institute brings fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.
Survival International - 50 years fighting for the survival of tribes, for nature, for all humanity.
UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. Adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
FILM AND VIDEO REFERENCES
Kara Women Speak | Jane Baldwin (2013)
The Mursi Trilogy
The Mursi Trilogy: In Search of Cool Ground Vol. 1.
The Mursi Trilogy: In Search of Cool Ground Vol. 2.
The Mursi Trilogy: In Search of Cool Ground Vol. 3.
Rivers of Sand. David Gardner (1974)
The Migrants. David Turton (1985)