Thursday, 14 October 2010

Green Ethiopia

Today is Blog Action Day, a day every year where bloggers focus on a single issue. This year the issue is water so I'm sharing some of my images of the lush uplands of Ethiopia.

Wait. . .Ethiopia? That place where there's only deserts and starving children? One of the things I love about being a travel writer is exploding myths. The central Ethiopian highlands actually get a fair amount of rain and are green and fertile. This is one of the reasons that there's been a civilization there for thousands of years. These shots were taken in the Amhara province about a hundred miles northeast of the capital Addis Ababa.
There are a lot of villages in this region. Overpopulation is one of Ethiopia's main challenges. There's not enough land and when there's a bad year many people go hungry.
There's water in this stream, but Ethiopia experiences periodic droughts. There was a big one in the Eighties that was exacerbated by a vicious civil war in which both sides burned each other's crops. These two factors led to the great famine that we all remember from TV. Sadly, those images were so seared onto our memories that people don't think there's anything else to this country.
This shot was taken just west of Addis Ababa and shows a family threshing teff, an Ethiopian grain that goes into making that tasty injera bread you might have tried. Teff is a nutritious grain that fetches a high price on the market, although it requires labor-intensive cultivation. These guys are making their cattle walk around on the grain in order to separate it.

For more on my trip to Ethiopia, check out my series on Ethiopia travel at Gadling.


Sioux said...

I remember clearly a Pulitzer-prize winning photo (from Ethiopia?) that had a starving baby, near death, in the background (lying on the ground) and in the foreground, a (waiting) vulture. There was a great deal of controversy: Why did the photographer take the picture? Why didn't they intervene instead?

Your posts always take me to interesting spots...This summer I've been to Rome and Greenland and now Ethiopia, thanks to you. I appreciate it. (Too bad I can't rack up frequent flyer miles as I blog read.)

BECKY said...

Beautiful photos! And until I saw the last one, I could've easily been viewing pictures from Ireland or Scotland or Wales. Thanks for exploding some of those myths!
(In case you're wondering how I found your blog...I saw your comment on Donna's Book Pub. She's a friend of mine!)

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.