Cattle are central to the lives of the Dassanech –just as they are for the other tribes of the Omo Vally .As well as meat, milk, leather for clothing, house and mattresses they provide status in the tribe, and the bride-wealth that allows a man to marry.
But unlike the lush green hills of the Surma and Hamar , the lands of the 35,000 –strong Dassanech are semiarid . they live where the Omo river delta enters lake Turkana –their name means “peoples of delta “despite the lake and the delta , this is an incredibly dry region ;there is nothing but deserts to the west and south west , daytime temperatures hover round 35 degrees centigrade ,and malaria mosquitoes add to the discomfort .
The Dassenech survive in this environment by cultivating crops when the rains arrive and the Omo river floods. They also manage their cattle herds well, slaughtering the older ones in the dry season, when grazing is limited, and the meat is most needed, but in this dry land, survival is precarious.