Tribes of Ethiopia
Globalisation and development are impacting heavily on the tribes living in the Omo Valley. Human rights groups fear for their future if they are forced to scatter, give up traditional ways of living through loss of land or the ability to keep cattle.
The Lower Omo Valley is a spectacularly beautiful area with diverse ecosystems including grasslands, volcanic outcrops, and one of the few remaining ‘pristine’ riverine forests in semi-arid Africa which supports a wide variety of wildlife.
The annual flooding of the Omo River feeds the rich biodiversity of the region and guarantees the food security of the tribes especially as rainfall is low and erratic.
They depend on it to practice ‘flood retreat cultivation’ using the rich silt left along the river banks by the slowly receding waters.
They also practice rainfed, shifting cultivation growing sorghum, maize and beans on the flood plains. Some tribes, particularly the Kwegu, hunt game and fish.
Cattle, goats and sheep are vital to most tribes’ livelihood producing blood, milk, meat and hides. Cattle are highly valued and used in payment for bride wealth.