Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hair Trends/Omo River People in Trouble

During my research about hair and beauty trends in Africa I came upon a photographer who had done some really beautiful pictures of the tribes of the Omo River Valley. Those pictures were included in the video I posted yesterday.

I became so interested in finding out more about the tribes, that I went to the trusty "google" looking for more.  I was deeply saddened to discover that progress has come to the Omo Valley.  And not in a good way! There is an aggressive effort underway to build a hydroelectric dam in the region (scheduled for completion in 2012) which will destroy their way of life. These tribes have lived on this land for many, many years.

To many of the tribes along the lower Omo, livestock is the embodiment of wealth and prestige. Yet their livelihood is dependent on planting crops of sorghum, maize, and beans using what's known as "flood-retreat agriculture." This type of farming is dependent on the annual flooding cycle, which deposits a layer of nutrient-rich silt beside the river, making the land productive for another year.

Tribes such as the Bodi, Karo, Muguji, Mursi, and Nyangatom have farmed this way for generations, and their culture revolves around the natural pulsations of the Omo.
The annual rise and fall of the Omo waters is, in effect, the ancient heartbeat of the valley that has dictated the economic and social values of the almost 200,000 tribal members. All this will change dramatically in the coming years due to the construction of the massive Gibe 3 hydroelectric dam a few hundred kilometers upriver.

There is particular concern over the Gibe III dam being built on the Omo river (video),  the largest infrastructure project in Ethiopian history. Campaigners say it threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in the South Omo region and around Lake Turkana in Kenya.

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