The Amhara Plateau is no one’s idea of a gloomy landscape. Rich fields blossom as far as the eye can see; bountiful rivers zigzag through the region’s rolling hills. It isn’t hard to see why local Orthodox Christians believe the Ark of the Covenant was floated down the Nile from Egypt and ended up here. Nor why desert raiders continually stormed in off the nearby Sahara for hundreds of years.
But to those who farm the fertile reaches of Western Ethiopia, their home environment is growing a good deal less enticing by the day.
Erratic temperatures and rains, which culminated last year in the total failure of the belg, the short rainy season, have struck locals hard. In a country still scarred by the deadly famines of the 1980s and 90s, reduced crop yields are panicking villagers, almost all of whom rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
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