Bodi (Me'en) People

The Bodi (or Me'en) people are one of the groups living in the Omo-Turkana Basin, in the lowlands east of the Omo river. This blog explores their livelihoods and the changes they are facing.

Bodi (Me'en) People

Nate Olson

The Bodi (or Me'en) people are one of the groups living in the Omo-Turkana Basin, in the lowlands east of the Omo river. Bodi is the name that the government and foreigners use for them, but the Bodi people call themselves the Me’en. Me’en is an encompassing tribe for multiple groups, two of which make up the Bodi. Their population is about 10,000.

Among the Me’en people, the Bodi are the considered the closest followers to their ancestry through their practice of pastoralism. The cattle that these people raise are vital to their social and economic livelihood. The Bodi use cattle sacrifices in many of their cultural ceremonies. Cattle provide the dowries for brides; in addition, cattle provide food security for the families who own them.

The Bodi people are stakeholders in the changes to the Omo-Turkana system due to the Gibe III dam and plantation development. The Bodi are one of the many groups that has been forced to resettle as a result of these changes. Some of the planned areas to be developed for the Kuraz Sugar Project directly overlapped with the Bodi land. During resettlement, Bodi people have had to give up many of their cattle, only allowed to keep a few of their original herds. In these government villages, the Bodi people will often rely on inadequate government aid programs to survive without the majority of their cattle.

Furthermore, the changes to the Omo river will hurt the food security of the Bodi people. The lack of natural flood seasons will hinder the upkeep of grazing land due to the flood-retreat nature of growing in the area. This will lower the resources available to the remaining cattle.

Government addresses to the pastoralist tribes like the Bodi have said the irrigation measures from the dammed river will provide for more grazing land for the pastoralist people. This seems in direct contradiction with the government’s actions because the irrigated land is currently being leased be foreign companies that will grow cash crops like sugar on that land. If this is the case, cash crops are not likely to be used as grazing land.


Survival International (2017). Omo Valley Tribes. Available from: 

Fratkin, Elliot. "ETHIOPIA'S PASTORALIST POLICIES: DEVELOPMENT, DISPLACEMENT AND RESETTLEMENT." Nomadic Peoples 18.1 (2014): 94-114. ProQuest. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

Mursi Online (2017). Bodi (Me'en). Available from: 

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