The word 'melca' means 'ford' in both the Amharic and Oromo languages, two of the most widely spoken in Ethiopia. It means a crossing point in a river, symbolizing the need to transfer people away from their current misconceptions about local people and cultures and instead transport them towards a greater understanding and appreciation of traditional ecological knowledge.
MELCA Ethiopia (Movement for Ecological Learning and Community Action) was founded in 2004 by a group of environmental practitioners and lawyers with extensive experience, nationally and regionally, on both cultural and environmental issues. The organisation arose out of their shared concern about the erosion and destruction of biodiversity and culture in Ethiopia. The organisation has a broad membership base, comprising, foresters, lawyers, ecologists, sociologists, environmentalists, youth groups and women's associations, and currently has 60 members.
MELCA aims to work for the revival and enhancement of traditional ecological knowledge and to protect the rights of communities to the same in Ethiopia. The organization profoundly believes that the experiences of local cultures could be positively used to address the current ecological and social crisis that we face. To achieve this, MELCA focuses on policy research, legislation and initiatives that affect culture and ecology relationships; advocacy and campaigning on community rights and the safeguarding of traditional ecological knowledge. They also engage in capacity building and in-depth training through experiential learning, to educate youth and other change agents; and raising public awareness on culture, biodiversity and development issues, including culture and biodiversity celebrations.
We have found that participatory mappings create a very important opportunity to realize the situation of our environment. It allowed us to see what we have and what we have lost in terms of our natural resources.
Community elder, Ethiopia
MELCA is also a member and co-founder of the coalition of 14 NGO's called Sheka Forest Alliance. It currently works with local communities, elders, schools and youth in the Sheka Forest region in southeast Ethiopia, the Bale Mountains National Park and Menagesha Suba forest near to Addis Ababa. MELCA is also a regional node for the African Biodiversity Network and other networks in Ethiopia such as the Green Forum.
For more information on the work of MELCA:
Watch the film The Sheka Forest Story - Wisdom from the Past, Resilience for the Future
Contact: Million Belay
Address: Melca Mahiber, PO Box 1519 Code 1250, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telephone: +251 11 550 71 72; +251 11 554 45 54; +251 911 40 24 03
Fax: +251 11 554 45 56