The Omo Valley of Ethiopia, known as one of the cradles of humanity, has been home to a diversity of tribes for centuries. The Gibe III Dam in the Omo Valley has threatened traditional life in the region since its construction began in 2008. The Dam was projected to provide Ethiopia a significant surplus of electricity, which it would sell to neighbouring Kenya, Sudan, and Djibouti generating approximately $407 million per year. The Ethiopian government came under fire for approving construction of the Dam despite environmental and cultural impact reports that projected potentially disastrous consequences for indigenous residents in the Omo Valley and Lake Turkana region, both of whom rely on the seasonal flooding of the river for their livelihoods. Since the Dam’s construction, the Omo River has not flooded and satellite imagery has shown that the lake’s shoreline has receded by as much as 1.7 kilometers and its water level has dropped by approximately 1.5 meters. The Dam also supports new plantations of water-intensive crops, which have resulted in the forced relocation of an estimated 260,000 people from 17 ethnic groups. Human rights groups have expressed concerns that inter-ethnic conflict may increase as communities compete for scarce resources.
Robin Yong is a street photographer and medical doctor based in Canberra, Australia. He enjoys traveling to far flung locales and familiarizing himself with the local living conditions to better advise patients in his travel medicine practice.