NWNL photos featured in article

Ethiopia, Lower Omo River Basin, Chelete, a Duss tribal communitiy, man with body and face paint holding AK 47 (Kalashnikov) in front of granary
Ethiopia, Lower Omo River Basin, Chelete, a Duss tribal communitiy, man with body and face paint holding AK 47 (Kalashnikov) in front of granary, Photo © Alison M. Jones for NWNL.

NWNL images from the Omo River Basin are featured in a recent article by Peter BosshardHow Chinese Loans Could Fuel Regional Conflict in East Africa. He writes, “The indigenous peoples of the Lower Omo Valley and Lake Turkana are extremely poor, but well-armed. They have a long history of resource conflicts over water, fisheries, and grazing land.” An extended version of this commentary also appeared, in English and Chinese, on chinadialogue.

2 thoughts on “NWNL photos featured in article

  1. Lori, I’m sorry to be late in replying to your question regarding the photo above that I took. I have been without any communications for 3 weeks, as I’ve been leading a No Water No Life expedition to northern Kenya to document threats to Lake Turkana – the terminus of Ethiopia’s Omo River, where the above photo was taken.

    While the context of the photo and presence of the gun is relatively simple to explain, the future implications are more complicated and constitute significant threats to the region. So I will give you a brief answer here – and address the question more thoroughly in an upcoming blog.

    The straightforward answer is that this man is not protecting the granary per se. He, like all indigenous pastoralists along the Omo, carries a Russian Kalashnikov left over from Ethiopia’s Derg Regime. The “Kalash,” as they call it, is used as status and for the occasional need to protect cattle from theft by other tribes, family from clan disputes and jealousies, and ensure water access for people and livestock.

    The complicated answer, aspects of which I’ll address soon in a new blog, revolves around the consequences of the omnipresence of these guns, as tensions rise from Ethiopia’s take-over of the pastoralists’ traditional resources of water, grazing lands for livestock and riverbanks for flood-recession agriculture. With so many weapons in the region, if the government ignores the plight of the indigenous communities of the Karo, Hamar, Mursi, Surmi, Nyangatom, Kwego and Dassenech, their anger could very quickly escalate into deadly violence.

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