Environmental Crisis In The Omo Valley

Environmental Crisis In The Omo Valley

The Omo Valley River of Ethiopia, making up part of the horn of Africa, is known to many researchers as the birth place of the human species. This country is home to eight tribal communities, making up a total of roughly 200,000 individuals. These small communities survive through hunting, gathering, raising cattle and agriculture. Even though they are not exposed to extreme cold, their agricultural lives revolve around the changing seasons. After the flood season, they plant sorghum, maize and beans, taking advantage of the nutrient rich soil resulting from the river flow. The relationship between the river and the people extends to caring for their livestock as well, since the grass that grows from the rains and the nutrients brought by the passing waters, sustain their cattle (Survival International, 2017).

In addition to being labeled the origin place of the human species, Ethiopia brings forth artistic expression to the tribal people of the country. The tribespeople of the Omo Valley are no strangers to permanent markings, such as piercings, tattoos and scarification, but they find additional inspiration in the earth around them. Through temporary pigmentation, the people of the riverside are able to express themselves in different ways on a daily basis. Through a variety of minerals, fruit and ashes, many individuals can paint themselves into living canvases for a day (Jablonski, 2006). To them, every color has a different meaning. For instance, green stripes on their foreheads are used during religious rituals, dedicated to the god of rain. They utilize the colors for functional reasons as well, such as camouflage for hunting. It is believed that the origin of skin pigmentation was functional, as it has been observed that many tribes use the tints to protect themselves from excessive sun exposure, and bug bites (Silvester, 2009).

Recent years have brought forth misfortune to the tribal people of the Omo Valley, as technology brings rise to benefits for the industrialized communities. A series of 5 dams are currently in the process of completion, splitting through the course of the giant river. These dams will serve as sources for hydraulic energy toward Ethiopia and the neighboring countries, Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti. Since the construction of this dam, water sources for the tribal communities have become scarcer, as the flow of the river has become interrupted. As a result, the cattle have begun to go hungry, crops have lost their source of nutrients and the people have quickly reached a food crisis. Conflict between the tribes has escalated, and they have begun trying to move their cattle to conservation parks, where they face additional confrontation with park rangers (Postel, 2015).

As we evolve as a species technologically, smaller societies who still depend greatly on the natural world around them are facing more conflict, regarding their own safety and overall way of life. Through these conflicts, tribespeople find themselves losing land, food, water and their cultural traditions. The small communities lining the Omo River are only one example of the many tribes and indigenous communities around the globe, facing uncertainty as they struggle to maintain practices that have made up their histories for centuries.



Jablonski, N. (2006). Skin: A natural history. Berkeley, CA: University of California.

Postel, S. (2015, December 2). Dam on Ethiopia’s Omo River causing hunger and conflict – National Geographic Society. Retrieved from http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/02/dam-on-ethiopias-omo-river-causing-hunger-and-conflict/

Silvester, H. W. (2009). Natural fashion: Tribal decoration from Africa. London, NY: Thames & Hudson.

Survival International. (2017). Omo Valley tribes: Gibe III dam – Survival International. Retrieved from http://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/omovalley/gibedam


Açai Berry, The Superfruit

Açai Berry, The Superfruit

Superfruits have supreme health benefits. They reduce the effects of health issues and improve vitamin levels. Some have a great amount of antitoxin levels, such as the well known açai berry. This berry mainly has an aftertaste rather than an flavor, but when eaten called bitter, grainy or rich. It can be found mainly in Brazil, so it is hard to obtain as fresh as recommended. They are the size of a grape and are picked when dark and ripe.

This plant is usually blue, purple, or red because of its anthocyanins, an antitoxin that helps regulate cholesterol levels. Properties, such as plant sterols or stanols have cholesterol lowering powers that help with circulation, and relaxing blood vessels. Açai berries help maintain a healthy weight and can even help lose it by removing fat deposits. Açai also helps digestion because of its detoxifying benefits.

In its chemical form, the açai berry is proven to kill cancer cells. This berry has killed 86 percent of lung cancer cells in some studies, including those of leukemia. All of this can occur within 18 hours of digestion. Not impressed? Well, did you know that the açai berry slows down the aging process? The antioxidants in the berry also remove free radicals (molecules) from your skin, teeth, and other areas, which can accumulate over the aging process.

However, with every rise there is a fall. The açai berry, when eaten through processed supplements, can cause buildup of plaque and toxins in the body. An equivalent problem is that açai berries can increase pollen allergies if you have them, so it’s best to avoid these berried in that scenario. Eating too much of the fruit as a race to the goal of your weight loss journey is, yet again another mistake. In the end you’ll eat more caloric foods and have sabotaged the journey.
To clarify, it’s a superfruit not a miracle fruit. Having too many vitamins from fruits can cause health issues and, whereas no eating enough of them can cause health issues, so go for the middle man. Everything has its pros and cons, so eat everything healthy in moderation and you will receive the benefits without the negatives.

What is Environmental Injustice?


[Photo from Zambia: Workers Detail Abuse in Chinese-Owned Mines]

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, income, etc, with regard to the enforcement of environmental policies. Unfortunately we, as the people, have been doing the opposite. There are places in close proximity to toxic areas where people live or work daily that are generally too unbalanced for the normal human body. Sometimes it’s the disregard of foundation owners, like in Zambia, where locals work from 12 to 18 hours in fume infested tunnels. The chinese state-run copper mining industry is poorly kept in safety and labor conditions.

Overall things such as air pollution, industrial sites, illegal waste dumping, mercury exposure, food deserts, unsafe water, and others, are considered forms environmental injustice. A common problem is people of color exposed to 38% more deadly chemicals and because of that they have a higher risk of heart and general health problems. Some speculate that corporations actively target communities in a weak state. There is evidence that regulators miss clear violations in these communities, by wrongly believing firms are cooperative with the regulation rules. This phenomenon is known as “compliance bias.” Areas that can’t fight back because of lack of resources and/or lack of political capital to resist environmental hazard fall victim to these situations. 
The unequal enforcement needs to be noticed for it to be dealt with. Regulators find violations at sluggish rates and put small penalties to action in vulnerable communities. This kind of information is found throughout history. Environmental justice is about ‘the people’ getting the message across and around that we need to work together and communicate to bring a final action. Making the people who have never been in environmentally unstable areas see what it’s like or how bad things can get. The connections made inspire others to have stronger environmental justice as well. And that’s what this is all about.

Have you ever heard of plastic bottle planters?


For those of you who have small, limited spaces, but still want that nice garden with some organic home grown vegetables, you don’t need a garden space to have a garden!

It’s pretty simple really. All you need is:

  • A few large plastic bottles (the lids as well)
  • A pair of scissors
  • Dirt
  • Fertilizer
  • A hammer
  • A thin nail
  • Seeds or seedlings
  • Tough string or relatively easily bendable wire
  • A window with nice lighting (or a lamp and a special sun lightbulb)
  • A way to hang things from said window or on a wall

Begin the process by cutting the bottle in half (it is recommended you use the side with the lid)

Use the scissors to poke 2-4 holes in the area of the bottle it will hang by

While you do the process you can place the top half of the bottle (lid side down) in the bottom half of the lid to keep it in place

Use the hammer and nail to get a hole into the lid of your bottle (if you have a small drill this can also be utilized)

After this is done, place a small amount of dirt into the bottle, followed by a teaspoon amount of fertilizer

Continue to fill with dirt until an inch below the top (if you have a seedling, be sure to allow room to place the seedling before filling the bottle with dirt)

Follow the instructions for the seed and plant it (you can place 2-3 seeds in the same planter)

Tie string through the holes you made for hanging and use this string to fasten the planter to your hanging area

You can tie a second planter to this planter by tying the hanging strings of the second planter to the bottom area of your first planter for more vegetables!

**Be sure that all your planters have enough access to your source of lighting!

Why the hole in the lid? Water will flow through this hole to the planter underneath, to avoid over watering!

You have the added option of simply putting your planters on shelves like so:


This is a great option for individuals looking for recycling, space saving and cost effective options! Look for more ways to use your living space for diy projects like these!

Our facebook

Our facebook


Esperanza Community Garden, reducing hunger through produce growth and educating about reusing and recycling for more eco-friendly urban planting. Our facebook has information about the garden, photos about our projects and posts about volunteers. Check out our brand new page and support by liking us. If you are in the Camden area and would like to help out in the garden, you are more than welcome to join us.

Pasta with white beans and pesto


Pasta and White Beans Pesto



From: Martha Stewart


Sprinkle salt and ground pepper

1 bunch broccoli (or asparagus), cut into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

10 ounces short pasta, such as fusilli

5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ ounce parmesan, finely grated (¼ cup), plus more for serving (optional)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves

½ small garlic clove

1 can (15 ½ ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained




  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook vegetables until tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a food processor. Return water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 2 cups pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.
  2. To food processor, add oil, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, parsley, and garlic. Puree until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down side as needed. Transfer pesto to pot with pasta. Stir in beans and heat over medium until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired.


*We recommend adding shrimp for fun twist.

Slow-Cooker Paleo Chicken-Spinach Stew

Rainy spring days call for soups and stews to keep warm!


Total Hours of Cook Time: 6 Hours

By: eMeals

Serves: 6


2 large sweet potatoes, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 tsp salt

½ lb Cajun-style smoked sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces

2 (14.5-oz) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes

2 (14.5-oz) cans organic chicken broth

1 (10-oz) bag baby spinach

  1. Place sweet potatoes, onions and garlic in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt. Place chicken and sausage over vegetables. Add tomatoes and broth.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours. Shred chicken with 2 forks; stir in spinach before serving. Season to taste.
  3. Add extra ingredients, such as beans, for your own twist!
  4. Vegan/ vegetarian option: remove chicken broth, chicken and sausage. Add vegetable based seasonings (recommended: sazon goya vegetable) and peppers of your choosing. Add black beans for protein!