I feel honoured if my work with the Kara people is inspiring you to travel to Ethiopia. Perhaps you consider to visit some of the many peoples in Southern Ethiopia. Since a few years, there is a road heading towards one of the Kara community villages. Unfortunately, most of the current Omo Valley tribes tourism practices are not beneficial to the tribe communities. However, today there is way of visiting the Kara people in a manner that respects and supports them : please read here below for more information.
Located in south west Ethiopia, the Omo Valley is a spectacularly beautiful and diverse landscape. The area is a melting pot of cultures and communities and represents some of the greatest genetic variance on the continent. The Omo River flows along the valley floor on the last leg of its journey to Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world. The river plays as essential part in the lives of local communities and serves as an umbilical cord for Lake Turkana. Many describe the Omo as being the birthplace of mankind. It’s not hard to see why.
Unfortunately, poor understanding of the different cultures, degrading tourism practices and, most seriously, the damming of the Omo River threatens the livelihoods and way of life of the peoples of the Omo. Large swathes of the area have been allocated for sugar plantations. Alongside this, a series of hydro-electric dams are upsetting natural flooding patterns that local tribes depend on for farming.
UK based Wild Philanthropy is a travel-driven investment initiative supporting at-risk eco-systems, wildlife and communities. Wild Philantrhopy is working with the Kara community who are facing a crisis in food security as well as the ongoing threat of future expansion of sugar or cotton plantations. A gradual reduction in annual rainfall and a complete failure of seasonal floods of the Omo River have threatened Kara livelihoods, as well as other river communities along the length of the Omo valley.
The Kara people as many other Omo river communities are primarily argo-pastoralists that have depended on the annual flood of the Omo River to grow sorghum, their main staple diet. Rain-fed agriculture has been important but less so. The series of Omo Gibe dams developed upstream have effectively ironed out the flow of the river. Controlled release has been suggested by the operators. However, the reality is that it never materialises. Tthe crops that rely on those floods have failed since 2017 and Kara food security is a growing crisis.
This Kara people are in dire need of the opportunity, support and funding to grow their own eco-tourist businesses. In response, Wild Philanthropy is working in partnership with its first impact investment, Wild Expeditions Ethiopia, focusing on supporting the development of a more sustainable way to travel to the Omo. Operating the only mobile tented camp in the Omo Valley, it provides the base for cultural safaris designed in the interest of all key stakeholders, offering guest the opportunity to really connect with local communities. Alongside this, Wild Philanthropy is also supporting the Kara community develop a community farm with a solar irrigation system. In the long-term, the aim is to support the community establish the Kara conservancy.
If you or a friend is considering to travel to Ethiopia, and more specifically to the Omo Valley peoples, please consider to be hosted at the Wild Expeditions ‘Lale’s Camp’, just a few minutes walking from the Kara people. Consider that a vast amount of your travel spending will benefit the Kara and other Omo river communities.
Wild Expeditions is a branch of Journeys by Design.