MELCA-Ethiopia, formerly known as MELCA Mahiber, is a non-profit making non-governmental organization. It was born out of the African Biodiversity Network in 2004. The founders of MELCA are environmental practitioners and lawyers. They have extensive experience, both regionally, nationally as well as internationally 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 concerned about the current erosion and destruction of both biodiversity and culture.
MELCA means ford both in Amharic and Oromo Language – two of the widely spoken languages of Ethiopia. A ford is a crossing point on a river. The name is used symbolically to indicate our work to connect young and elders, culture and environment, traditional ecological knowledge and western scientific knowledge, etc. A river also signifies a linkage with a source. We believe our culture is the source of our identity and wisdom. If it is destroyed or degraded, we will loose a vast amount of knowledge and our identity. A river flows forward, and we flow forward into the future taking with us what is positive and works for the earth and us.
The name MELCA also translates in English to Movement for Ecological Learning and Community Action. Ecological learning implies learning experientially, in a participatory way, holistically, empowering the learner. It also espouses democracy as a principle and outcome of learning.