Fears have been sparked of a mass eviction of 200,000 Omo tribes from the Lower Omo valley in Ethiopia to convert available land into sugarcane plantations.
A leaked map, which forms part of an internal report by Ethiopia's Wildlife Conservation Authority on the environmental impact of planned sugarcane plantations in the Omo, has revealed government plans to displace centuries-old tribes from the valley, said Survival, a global NGO that highlights the pressures, including forced evictions, on tribal peoples.
Ethiopian authorities have been criticised for their development plans at the cost of indigenous people.
The Bodi (Me'en), Daasanach, Kara (or Karo), Kwegu (or Muguji), Mursi and Nyangatom live along the Omo and depend on it for their livelihood, having developed complex socio-economic and ecological practices intricately adapted to the harsh and often unpredictable conditions of the region's semi-arid climate, according to Survival.
The plantation plans alongside the country's biggest hydro electric dam stands to snatch away all resources from the tribes and endanger the food security of at least 100,000. The plan for sugarcane plantations is not the only instance when the Ethiopion authorities have played play foul with the tribals.
In 2006, the Ethiopian authorities had given the go-ahead for building a hydro-electric plant, the biggest in the country. The contract was won by the only bidder, an Italian company Salini Costruttori, to build the dam at a cost of $1.4 billion. Construction was halted when cries of human rights violation against tribals caught the attention of the international media.
An inquiry, funded by the Ethiopian Power Supply Corporation and Salini, due to obvious reasons, ruled in favour of constructing the dam.
The last is yet to be heard on the project as pressure mounts to scrap it.