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.
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.
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.
After a day at work, men and women gather to enjoy Buna Qala – a drink made with coffee beans, milk, sugar, butter and oil.
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.
Elders in the community protect access to grazing land. Here, a makeshift fence of wood marks an area reserved in case of drought.
Goats and cattle are the most popular livestock managed in Ethiopia. Both animals also have an important role in rural cultures and traditions.
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.
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.