Sunday, 14 February 2016

Ed Asmus | Ethiopia's Omo Valley

Photo © Ed Asmus - All Rights Reserved
The Lower Omo River in south west Ethiopia is home to eight different tribes whose population is about 200,000 and it is there that they've lived there for many centuries. The tribes such as the Daasanach, Kara (or Karo), and the Mursi live along the Omo river and depend on it for their livelihood. The annual flooding of the Omo River feeds the biodiversity of the region and guarantees the food security of the tribes especially as rainfall is low and erratic. 

In July 2006 the Ethiopian government has started to build a hydro-electric dam that will soon will block the south western part of the Omo River which runs for 760 kms from the highlands of Ethiopia to Lake Turkana in Kenya, and is designed to support vast commercial plantations that are forcing these tribes from their land.

Ed Asmus, a architectural photographer, recently photographed in Ethiopia's Omo Valley last November, and returned from what he described as as "life changing" trip with images of some of the tribes. Due to tribal tensions, he had to change his itinerary but experienced the $2 a night "hotel" and the $120 a night Murulle Omo Explorer's Lodge in Jinka. He also informs us that each photograph costs him $0.25, and if it included a baby, it would cost an extra $0.25. His trip blog is here.

Mr. Asmus' photographs remind me of those made by Hans Silvester, who over three years visited the Mursi and Surma Tribes of the Omo Valley at least nine times. Mr. Silvester was attracted by the Surma and Mursi tribes who use body paint to protect themselves from the harsh elements