EL SOD: THE SALT OF LIFE
El Sod, the House Of Salt, is a village located 90 km from Yabelo, the capital of Borana people in South Ethiopia. It stands on the edge of an extinct volcano wide of 1,8 km diameter, with a salted lake in the crater. For centuries, men dive into the lake to collect the salt and sell it across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya
It takes 1 hour on a narrow path to go down the 2,5 km from the village to the lake, 340 meters lower. The best view on the crater can be spotted from the recently built mosque.
Every miner works as a free lance, independent from any company or boss. Most of the time divers are naked, the salted water being so agressive that it destroys everything, including clothes and shoes.
Miners try to protect their nose and ears with plugs made of soil wrapped in plastic bags. There’s no protection for the eyes: many suffer heavily from blindness.
When the weather is good after rains (Borana wait for it for months since the area suffers from drought) more than 200 men dive into the lake. More and more children are joining for the families to get some extra revenue. The parents are aware of the dangers but they don’t have any choice if they want to survive.
Photo Shows: Some men say they can make 3 trips in a single day. It takes them 30 mn to go down (at least double for a tourist), one hour to collect the salt, then 1 hour to clim up back to the village with loaded donkeys. Some men do work from sunrise to sunset.
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