by Fausto Podavini
Omo Change was selected as a finalist for the 2019 FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo. Copyright 2019 FotoEvidence. All rights reserved. Photographs Copyright© 2019 Fausto Podavini Introduction Copyright © 2019 Igiaba Scego Texts Copyright © 2019 Fausto Podavini and Marirosa Iannelli Text Editor: Marta Lutzu and David Stuart Translation: Marta Lutzu and David Stuart Map Copyright © 2019 Riccardo Pravettoni published in Atlante Geopolitico dell’acqua, Hoepli 2019 Photo Editor: Régina Monfort Post-Production: Daniele Zedda Design: Melike Taşcıoğlu First edition. ISBN 978-1-7324711-3-9
“The first time I entered the construction site of the Gibe III dam, after half an hour by jeep through pristine and luxuriant nature, I found myself in front of the dam under construction. Stunned, my watery eyes were staring at the concrete half wall that did nothing but connect two mountains. And it is there that I realized how much this dam represented a challenge to nature.” Fausto Podavini The book Omo Change tells the story of the Omo River Valley, one of the most incredible areas on the African continent, a place where our human ancestors first emerged. The place is wild and unique, as are the people living there. The people are divided into a variety of tribes, each with their own rights, colors and customs, but all united by their dependence on the river. Their tribal rites, basic homes and animal husbandry reveal a deep balance with nature. The Gibe III dam has disrupted that balance in the name of development, development that diverts a local resource on which people depend to the interests of Ethiopian elites and international investors. The dam will produce electricity for export to Kenya and water from the river’s water is now drawn down to irrigate large cotton and sugar plantations, transforming forests into massive monoculture farms owned by foreign interests. Fausto Podavini spent seven years documenting the changing environment in the Omo Valley following the opening of the Gibe III dam. Omo Change contains 84 photographs and commentary from the photographer, Igiaba Scego, an Italian writer of Somali origins and Marirosa Iannelli, a water rights activist and president of The Water Grabbing Observatory. The book includes a map of the Omo River Valley by geographer Riccardo Pravettoni from the Norwegian Center for Global Analysis.