Omo Valley, Ethiopia by Hans Silvester
The Lower Omo River in south west Ethiopia is home to eight different tribes whose population is about 200,000.
They have lived there for centuries.
In 2011 the government began to lease out vast blocks of fertile land in the Lower Omo region to Malaysian, Italian, Indian and Korean companies to plant biofuels and cash crops such as oil palm, jatropha, cotton and maize. It has started to evict Bodi, Kwegu, and Mursi people from their land into resettlement areas to make way for the large state-run Kuraz Sugar Project, which could eventually cover 245,000 hectares. The Suri who live west of the Omo are being forcibly resettled to make way for the ‘Koka’ oil palm plantation.
Communities’ grain stores and their valuable cattle grazing land have been destroyed. Those who oppose the theft of their land are routinely beaten and thrown in jail. There have been numerous reports of rape and even killings of tribal people by the military, who patrol the region to guard the construction and plantation workers.
The Bodi, Mursi and Suri have been told they have to give up their herds of cattle, a vital part of their livelihood, and may only keep a few cows in the resettlements, where they will become dependent on government aid to survive.
(to read more > Survival International)