FRI / June 1804:00 p.m. – 06:00 p.m.CONCEPTS OF WATER

Desalegn Amsalu (Addis Abeba)

A Short Ethnography of Water Among the Awi, Northwestern Ethiopia

This paper presents a short ethnography of the water among the Awi ethnic group in northwest Ethiopia. The Awi have developed cultural practices in relation to the water. There are beliefs in the power of water favorably serving as the repellent or breaker of evil spirits. Conversely, there are profound beliefs of how the evil spirits themselves can use water to harm people. The paper also presents omens related to water and water enters a wide range of discursive use of the Awi language. The people build traditional irrigation schemes operated and maintained by farmers themselves. Traditional water use associations led by elected chiefs undertake the operation and maintenance of the traditional irrigation schemes. They also manage watersheds to improve water resource availability. When conflicts arise in water use, they resolve them through indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms. I did research on this relatively less known and less written aspect of ethnography among the Awi (and even on other ethnic groups) mainly in 2019 and 2020 through a qualitative approach.