Ethiopia Land Administration to Nurture Development (LAND) UPDATE: August 2014

The “LAND UPDATE” is an electronic newsletter produced by the Ethiopia Land Administration to Nurture Development (LAND) project. The LAND project works at the national and regional levels of government to further improve the legal and regulatory framework related to land tenure and property rights and thereby support the Government of Ethiopia’s and USAID’s goal of increasing economic growth, particularly agricultural sector growth, improving rural resiliency, and improving governance. LAND uses a variety of activities to strengthen capacity of land administration and land use institutions. In addition, LAND supports activities focusing on securing rights to community lands, strengthening capacity of community members to manage their natural resource assets.

Training of Trainers in Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing

LAND delivered a five-day Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote sensing training of trainers (ToT) for 14 federal and regional experts in Adama town from 14-18 July 2014. The training focused on concepts of GIS and remote sensing and their applications; data acquisition, analysis, management and presentation as well as interactive use of GIS and remote sensing softwares. Two of the trainees were experts from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Land Use and Administration Directorate and 12 were from eight regional Environmental Protection Land Use and Administration Agencies. The experts are expected to cascade the training to 10 land use and administration experts in their respective regions over the next couple of months. The regional trainees’ will in turn train zonal and woreda level experts.

Yemengist Teshome, one of the two female participants is MSC holder in GIS. She works for Amhara Region Environmental Protection Land Use and Administration Agency based in Bahir Dar. She has been working for the Agency for more than a year now. She said ‘the training gave me valuable input for the training that I am going to provide for zonal experts.’ She added ‘the GIS training that I am going to conduct will support land use planning activities’.

Yemengist believes that land use planning is relevant for the community as it leads to prudent use of natural resources for sustainable development. She intends to further develop her knowledge of GIS and remote sensing software by using the Internet. She said ‘It is gratifying for me to transfer my skills and The ToT approach is one of the key instruments used by LAND to build the capacity of land administration officials at the federal and regional levels. Mulugeta Assefa LAND knowledge to others.’

BogaleTerefe is a Land use expert and Land Use Case Team Coordinator at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Land Use and Administration Directorate. He said the training gave him new knowledge on how to make watershed delineation, contour maps, drainage pattern and prepare land use and land cover maps using Global mapper and Google satellite map down loader. In his capacity as a Land Use Case Team Coordinator he said ‘I will support, coordinate, facilitate and monitor the regional staff who have taken the trainings to train their staff when return back to their regions.’

LAND provided the GIS and remote sensing training to build the analytical capability of land administration and land use planning professionals engaged in land resources survey and land use planning. The ultimate objective is to have efficient and cost-effective land use planning methodology throughout the country. Creating such local capacity enables technical assistance for the community, which leads to improved and sustainable land use practices and optimized economic benefit.

Land Legislation through a Gender Lens

LAND brought administration officials, judges and women’s affairs experts together in the Southern Nations, Nationality and People (SNNP) Regional state for consultations on the strengths and weaknesses of existing land policy and legislation in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The participants stressed that formal laws, customary practices and Sharia law contribute to women’s limited access, use rights and control of land in SNNPR. It appears that although the existing regional land law is non-discriminatory and provides for equal rights for women, it has been largely ineffective as it operates in a predominantly gendered social, economic and cultural context.

In places where the customary structure dominates, women seem to have little or no means of claiming or inheriting land. According to the participants, inheritance remains the principal form of land acquisition in most parts of the region. However, since inheritance practices are patrilineal: women can only access land through their male relatives. After marriage, women do not inherit their husbands’ use rights. When their husbands die the use rights are passed on to their in-laws.

The participants made the following suggestions in relation to laws and enforcements:

  • Implement existing (revised) land laws and conduct dissemination and education programs across society.
  • Amend existing laws to contain explicit provisions stating the land rights of women and to prevent conflicts with other laws such as family law, civil code.
  • Improve law enforcement through monitoring the implementation of laws and strengthening the capacity of the judicial sector and those working at grass root level.
  • Most importantly increase women’s involvement at each stage of the policy and decision-making process to promote equality and make their voices heard.

One of the key problems related to women’s land rights in the region is women’s lack of awareness on their legal rights. On top of this, society and leaders too are largely unaware of the benefits and importance of providing access to land for women. Thus, participants underlined the need for education programs at all levels of the society i.e. from leaders to local communities. It is important to raise awareness not only on the available legal frameworks but also on the negative consequences of restricting land rights of women.

Furthermore, it was pointed out that legal dualism between formal, religious and customary law require more research. Research on this topic could help harmonize land laws with other laws of inheritance and marriage. It was also mentioned that cross-institutional cooperation is essential to protect and promote women’s land rights in the region. As a result, representatives from Women’s, Children, and Youth Affairs Bureau, Bureau of Justice and Environmental Protection Land Use and Administration Agency agreed to work closely and hold informal meeting to discuss on pressing gender issues. A similar consultation workshop is scheduled to be carried out in Wukro town of Tigray Regional State in August 2014.


Establishment of the “Ethiopian Land Research and Development Network” (ETHIOLANDNET) is underway. LAND created a platform for development agencies, research institutes and universities to discuss the formation of an informal collaborative network that promotes and facilitates land related information exchange and research in Ethiopia. It was agreed that the Institute of Land Administration of Bahir Dar University (ILA/BDU) will be the secretariat of the network.

LAND assisted with drafting of the memorandum of association (MoA) that governs the activities of the Network. Potential member organizations held their second preparatory meeting in LAND’s office in Addis Ababa on 14 July revised and approved the draft MoA.

They also endorsed ETHIOLANDNET as the network’s acronym. International and bilateral agencies working on land related development and research will be invited to become associate members. The inaugural meeting of the general assembly of ETHIOLANDNET is planned to take place in October 2014 in Bahir Dar.

LAND’s Grant Scheme in Progress

LAND is promoting land-related research via its LAND Grant Scheme (LGS) that aims to advance knowledge on causal linkages among Land Tenure Security, Food Security, Natural Resources Management and Economic Growth. It is expected that research findings will provide evidence-based inputs for policy and decision makers in land administration.

The broad thematic areas identified for funding research under the LGS are:

  • Rural Land Transaction;
  • Land Scarcity, Fragmentation and Landlessness;
  • Land and Water Resource Related Conflict and Dispute Resolution;
  • Land Administration and Governance;
  • Land Use Dynamics (impact of urbanization on natural resource and livelihoods);
  • Watershed Management and Community Mobilization;
  • Participatory Natural Resource Management, Climate Change, Vulnerability and Resilience in pastoral and agro pastoral areas.

Participants were given orientation on the LAND Project and the aim of the LGS and how it fits into achieving the objectives of the project. They were guided through a package of information and guidelines on how to successfully prepare the full-fledged proposal and the procedures that will be followed in implementing the research and its supervision thereof.

The institutions were given one month to prepare and submit their grant application proposals. All of them have submitted their proposals that are currently being reviewed by the LGS Review Committee. Announcement of the successful grantees will be made at the end of September 2014.