However the future of these tribes lies in the balance. A massive hydro-electric dam, Gibe III, is under construction on the Omo. When completed it will destroy a fragile environment and the livelihoods of the tribes, which are closely linked to the river and its annual flood.
Salini Costruttori, an Italian company, started construction work on the Gibe III dam at the end of 2006, and has already built a third of it.
China’s largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), has agreed to fund part of the construction of the dam. The Ethiopian government has also asked the African Development Bank and the Italian government to fund Gibe III, and they are expected to make a decision soon.
Various regional and international organisations believe that the Gibe III Dam will have catastrophic consequences for the tribes of the Omo River, who already live close to the margins of life in this dry and challenging area.
© Kieron Nelson 2005 "Vanishing Cultures Photography"