OMO RIVER BASIN EXPEDITION, JAN. – FEB. ’08:
This No Water No Life (NWNL) expedition in northeastern Africa documents Ethiopia’s Lower Omo River’s low-water season conditions, in comparison to those in flood-season as documented by NWNL’s fall 2007 expedition. Coverage also includes continued documentation of increasing riverine de-forestation and further aerial documentation of the Gibe III dam being built on the Upper Omo which will forever change this watershed. These subjects are critical pieces to understanding fresh water availability now and in the future in the Omo River Basin
In the short dry season of January and February, when Ethiopia’s Omo River drops 60 feet, local tribes engage in traditional flood-recession agriculture. This practice occurred in Egypt along the Nile for thousands of years until the upstream dams were built. Now the Omo River Basin is threatened by dams being built in its upper reaches; by the infiltration of modernized agriculture that is destroying the riverine forest’s flora and fauna; by disruptive Westernizing effects from the construction of an international highway/bridge from oil-rich Sudan to Kenya’s ports; and by an oil exploration deal.
As NWNL’s team discussed options and timing for such an expedition, it was deemed imperative that documentation of the Omo’s traditional flood recession agriculture and harvest not be delayed as there are likely to be permanent changes and possibly imminent elimination of traditional river-agriculture. As well, these future 2-month, limited windows of time for annual flood recession agriculture and its harvests could become closed to documentation by NWNL due to looming, and possibly long-term, political disruptions in Ethiopia.
En route back from the Omo, the team will visit Arba Minch for four days to interview scientists, agricultural consultants, and hydrologists at Ethiopia’s Water Technology Institute. NWNL will video these interviews that highlight curent research, assessments of existing watershed circumstances and ways to improve fresh water usage and availability in both the Omo and the Blue Nile River Basins.