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Participant Resources | Scenario: North-South Conference
Lake Tana is the largest freshwater body in Ethiopia (area 3156 km2), accounting for 50 percent of the total inland waters and a major source of the Blue Nile (one of the two major Nile tributaries flowing through Ethiopia). It harbours a diverse fish population, including the only remaining species flock (a group of species) of cyprinid fishes (15 species) left in the world. Lake Tana and its wetlands have a multipurpose value for the surrounding area, serving as...
Lake Tana is in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia, one of nine ethnically-defined regions mandated by the current government.
Amhara ethnic group: Isolated by their homeland's rugged geography, the people of the Ethiopian highlands have preserved their cultures largely intact from outside influences, and the Amharas have been the most influential among the highlands' many ethnic groups. For nearly 1,000 years, they have been a primary force behind Ethiopia's history, religion and language.
For the Amharas, land is the key to social status. If one is rich, but without land, one is not respected. At the same time, manual laborers are frowned on. These traditional beliefs derive from the long history of feudalism in Ethiopia, which lasted well into the 20th century and, in a somewhat altered form, into the present. Today, about 90 percent of the Amharas are rural and make their living through farming, primarily in the Ethiopian highlands. Prior to the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution, absentee landlords maintained strict control over their sharecropping tenants, often allowing them to accumulate crippling debt. After 1974, the landlords were replaced by local government officials, who today play a similar role.
The most important crops are barley, corn, millet, wheat, sorghum, and teff, along with beans, peppers, chickpeas, and other vegetables. In the highlands, one crop per year is normal, while in the lowlands two are possible. Cattle, sheep, and goats are also raised.
Traditional beliefs & religious practices: For many Amharas, blacksmiths, potters and tanners are associated with evil spirits that let these craftsmen turn humans into donkeys to help them in their work. As a result, many Amharas believe that iron and leather products are endowed with a special strength.
Most Amharas consider it impossible to be Amhara and non-Christian. Rulers of Ethiopia for centuries, the Amhara also oversaw the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in the 4th century AD. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church combines a blend of Christian and Judaic practices. Boys are circumcised within a week of birth. Saturday as well as Sunday are Sabbath days. For rural Amharas, the rules of the church can carry the force of law.
Weyt'o ethnic group: On the southern tip of Lake Tana, in a slum in Bahir Dar, a small population of the Weyt'o ethnic group lives in extreme poverty. Hippopotamus hunters by tradition, these victims of tribal racism are finding new hope for the future through information technology (IT) and entrepreneurship training (see link below).
The lake ecosystem and the water resources as a whole are endangered by a variety of factors. Broadly speaking, compromising Lake Tana and its associated gene pools (biodiversity) affect the stability and resilience of the entire ecosystem and endanger the sustainability of the Lake, the surrounding wetland resources, and the human population.
Challenges (not in any particular order):
Lake Tana and related images
Ethiopia country data
Opening the floodgates to freedom and prosperity in Ethiopia (IT and entrepreneurship training centers)
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