The Karo tribe, consisting of about 1,500 people, is the smallest ethnic group in the Omo Valley of South-western Ethiopia.
Kolcho is one of three Karo villages. There is no drinkable water, no electricity and no medical service. The nearest modern hospital is 4 hours away on uneven and dusty roads. The village’s elementary school is without electricity as well, and the villagers take their water directly from the Omo river.
Karo men and women decorate their faces and bodies with paint made from chalk and ochre to increase their attractiveness to the opposite sex.
Nowadays, tourists pay $20USD per car as an entry fee to the village, and a picture of a warrior costs about $1. This type of income, requiring little effort, discourages young men to grow crops or tend livestock as their elders did.
Unlike the Mursi, the Karo never practiced stick-fighting. But many of the village’s young men have adopted this activity because visitors pay up to $60 to see a fight. The scars on their arms and the rest of their body is the price they pay for those dollars.
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The Ethiopian government is currently building a massive hydro-electric dam, Gibe III (the Gilbel Gibe III Dam) on the Omo River. This might cause irreversible damages to the Karo’s land and it directly threatens their primary means of subsistance. The number of Karo is steadily declining and their culture could disappear soon.
Photos taken between 2005 and 2013 by Vlad Karavaev / Dietman Temps / Charles Roffey and RURO photo. PHOTO CREDIT: Vlad Karavaev / Dietman Temps / Charles Roffey / RURO photo via CrowdMedia