Salt Of The (Ethiopian) Earth

We sent Planet Forward Explorer and Digital Media Guy Devin Greene to the hottest, most remote place on Earth to shoot videos. Along the way, he got to stay with some nomads in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia who are as salt-of-the-Earth as they come.

They literally make their living pulling salt from the Earth, slab-by-slab, using hand tools and camels.

But the Afar people aren’t the only players in this story. Chinese investors continue to expand their reach within Ethiopia, and according to our guide, they plan on building a road and a factory on top of the salt mines. That’s bad news for the Afar people, who are currently the only ones crazy enough to work in such an unforgiving climate. The new, high-tech competition could drive many of them out of work in the next year or so.  

That’s a very common story here. Who wins and who loses when it comes to investment in the developing world? China is the number one investor in Ethiopia, and they’ve been able to generate thousands of jobs for Ethiopians. But no one has statistics on how many Ethiopians are being displaced by this rapid expansion, globalization, and outside investment. That means that if the Afar people lose their jobs, they won’t even have the luxury of “being another statistic.” No one’s keeping track. 

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