'Devastating' lives of indigenous groups

From Global development | The Guardian Thu Feb 7 2013, 00:10:01

Pastoralists living in the Omo valley are being forcibly relocated, imprisoned and killed due to plans to build a massive dam that will turn the region into a major centre for commercial farming

Human rights abuses in Ethiopia's Lower Omo valley are said to be rampant, with tribal leaders imprisoned, dozens of people killed and troops cracking down on dissent ahead of the building of a massive dam, which is forcing the relocation of some of the most remote tribes in Africa.

The valley, a Unesco world heritage site renowned for its isolated cultures and ethnic groups, is home to 200,000 pastoralist farmers including the Kwegu, Bodi, Mutsi and Nyangatom tribes. These groups all depend on the Omo river, which flows through their traditional land on its way to Lake Turkana in Kenya.

But their way of life, which has remained largely unchanged in thousands of years, is now being devastated by the Ethiopian government's plans to turn the Omo valley into a powerhouse of large commercial farming. Malaysian, Indian and other foreign companies have been allocated vast areas of land and water resources to grow palm oils, cereals and other crops.

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