MELCA means ford both in Amharic and Oromo language – two of the widely spoken languages of Ethiopia. It means a crossing point on a river, which is symbolically used to indicate the need to take people away from their misconception about local people and culture to an understanding and appreciation of traditional ecological knowledge. A river also signifies linkage with a source. If the source dries, the river also dries. MELCA emphasizes that culture is the source of identity and wisdom, and that the destruction or degradation of culture will result lose of a vast amount of knowledge and identity.
1. History of Establishment
The founders of MELCA are environmental practioners and lawyers. They have an extensive experience, both nationally and regionally, on issues related to environment and culture. MELCA arose out of their concern for the confusion that the public has on matters concerning traditional ecological knowledge. They are deeply worried about the current erosion and destruction of both biodiversity and culture. They sincerely feel that a wholesale adoption of western thinking and action is not a solution to Ethiopia. They believe profoundly that there are lots and lots of positive experiences in our culture which could be used to address the current ecological and social crisis that we have. The founders were airing their worry through national and international forums and are now convinced that it is by organizing themselves as a group that they can address their concerns in a focused and meaningful way.
2. Legal Status
MELCA (Movement for Ecological Learning and Community Action) was registered in 2004 with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Justice as a membership based association and renewed its certificate until October 28, 2013(Certificate No. 0348). It has a broad membership base, comprising, foresters, lawyers, ecologists, sociologists, environmentalists, youth groups and women’s associations, and currently has 60 members.
3. Organization and Management
Until 2012, MELCA Ethiopia had a general Assembly led by the renowned environmental activist and former General Manager of EPA, Dr. TewoldeBerhan G/Egziabher, who won the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award). He was replaced by W/ro Mahilet Teshome, a lawyer, at the end of 2012, after serving for two terms as per MELCA’s article of association.
Under the general assembly, there is a board, which has five members. Until 2012, chairman of the board was again the renowned Ethiopian scientist, Dr. Melaku Werede who also won the Alternative Nobel Prize. He was also replaced by Ato Melese Damte, a law professor at the Ethiopian Civil Service University, at the end of 2012. Under the board there is the executive office lead by the Director and 24 staff members. We have focused our work in three forest areas of Ethiopia. The areas are the Sheka forest (SNNPR), the Bale Mountains and the Sebeta Suba Forest (Oromiya Region). There are three branch offices, at Dinsho, Bale Mountains, at Holeta, Menagesha Suba and the other one at Masha, Sheka Zone.
4. Vision and Mission Statements
To see bio-cultural diversity conserved for healthy ecosystem and sustainable life.
To work for a healthy ecosystem, vibrant culture and improved lives of communities in Ethiopia through developing and spreading innovative methods.
MELCA has more than 20 partners including government offices at regional, zonal and woreda levels, local non governmental organizations and CBOs as well as a number of non-Ethiopian non governmental organizations operating locally in other countries and internationally including Ethiopia.