Photography: 21st century farming in Ethiopia

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

These photos were taken by Tom Levitt for Getty images. Usually reserved for men, the career of herding livestock is slowly becoming available to women in Ethiopia.

This shift is a direct consequence of advances in education and employment opportunities for women, as well as the increased urbanisation of men.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Goat herders are given a time slot during which they can bring their animals to a trough. Other herders top it up with water from a nearby well.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Herders guard the well against wild animals and raids. Water is still a precious commodity in Ethiopia, and control of it is power in the community.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

After a day at work, men and women gather to enjoy Buna Qala – a drink made with coffee beans, milk, sugar, butter and oil.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Droughts in the 1980s and 90s meant that between 37% and 62% of cattle was lost to Ethiopian herders. These women are gathering and storing hay to insure themselves against such losses in the future. As Ethiopian farming progresses, socioeconomic change comes to rural communities as well. Farming has become a much more inclusive activity in recent years, with children and women involved in some of the most important aspects of growing crops or taking care of livestock, as well as selling the produce in markets.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Elders in the community protect access to grazing land. Here, a makeshift fence of wood marks an area reserved in case of drought.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Goats and cattle are the most popular livestock managed in Ethiopia. Both animals also have an important role in rural cultures and traditions.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Camels, capable of going 2 weeks without water, are a strong asset to manage. Their diet is also easy to maintain – they live on bush and shrub – and require little maintenance.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

The Ibsa (‘bright futures’) livestock co-operative use phones to stay in touch with market movements. Last year, the cooperative used profits from the sale of 300 cattle and goats to provide microcredit loans to the poorest members.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

The search for good pasture can take herders on a walk of upto 100km.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

With the socioeconomic progress in Ethiopia, communities balance out a child’s duty to his family with his duty to himself. Children work in shifts with their families, with many going to school in the mornings and working in the evenings.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Friday is market day in Negele.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Goats can be sold for $50, with camels selling for up to $900. Livestock makes up about 90% of the local economy in parts of Ethiopia, and meat and dairy consumption is forecast to increase as sustainable farming takes root across the region.

Photo credit: Tom Levitt/Getty Images

Sometimes, livestock is transported to Addis Ababa, the capital, to be exported to the Middle East, where camel meat is popular. Goats are usually reserved for Ethiopian tables.

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