Under a charcoal sky, among the grasses and thorn trees of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, a boy from the Bodi tribe carries his goat.
The tribes that live along the lower reaches of the Omo river have developed agricultural practices that are intricately adapted to the flooding cycles of the Omo, using the rich silt left along the river banks by receding waters to grow a variety of crops. Boys tend to livestock from an early age – Bodi children learn poems that they sing to their favourite cows – and girls help to cultivate staple foods such as sorghum, maize and pumpkins.
The life-giving river is now threatened by government-sanctioned development schemes, including Africa’s largest hydro-electric dam, which will leave the tribes without the annual floodwaters to grow their crops.
The people are hungry, said a man from the Mursi tribe. There is no singing now. The kids are quiet.
(Image shows a Bodi boy, Ethiopia. Joey L cards available from Survival’s shop at http://shop.survivalinternational.org/products/joey-l-greetings-cards)
Picture © Joey L/www.joeyl.com