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Case study 3: Redistribution of communal land in Tigray, Ethiopia

Case study 3: Redistribution of communal land in Tigray, Ethiopia

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Case study 3: Redistribution of communal land in Tigray, Ethiopia

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  1. Case study 3:Redistribution of communal land in Tigray, Ethiopia

  2. Communal natural resources in Tigray

  3. Land issues in Tigray • Majority population in Ethiopia relies on largely peasant agriculture, but becoming (slowly) more market oriented. • Cultivable land is scarce with growing population • All land owned by state. User rights given to farmers and pastorlists.

  4. Degradation of communal land • Degradation of land is a major problem • Soil erosion • Reduced soil fertility • Gully formation • Deforestation • (use of dung for fuel, not for soil) • Mountainous landscape • Pressure to cultivate sloping land • Erosion including gully erosion • Transportation difficult and inputs not easy to access • Poverty • Unable to afford inputs (because of high risk of crop failure) • Vicious circle of over-use of land in order to meet basic food security causing decreased fertility

  5. Land scarcity • Growing population • Last distribution of cultivable land happened in 1991. None since. • Limited options for off-farm incomes • So land being farmed in smaller and smaller plots by increased numbers in households • Growing problem of landless youths

  6. Policies on communal NRM in early 1990s • Attempts to address land degradation for many years from early 1970’s. • Mainly top-down technical approaches of building terraces/bunds and tree-planting • Soil/water conservation (SWC) measures continued – supported by NGOs as well as regional government technical officers • Included promoting ‘area closures’ to allow regeneration • Communal resources managed by communities (in some cases state managed forests)

  7. General policy background • New government took over from Derg regime in 1991 (many years of conflict) • Land remained state owned • Regions authorized to develop regulations on NRM • Baito system of local democracy • Decentralisation • Regular Strategic and Development Plans • Last land redistribution in 1991 • Land registration and certification

  8. Hillside distribution • In 1997, the Guideline for Development and Utilisation of Hillsides was included in the Proclamation to Decide on Utilisation of Rural Lands • “Hillsides under the tabia ownership, but not developed so far shall be provided to the landless in the tabia so they can benefit by privately developing the hillsides” • This has been widely adopted, with communities themselves deciding on communal land to distribute and establishing byelaws for management

  9. How did this change happen?

  10. ROA applied in Tigray case study All three ROA components used to produce the timeline of events and influences • Literature review & commissioned timeline of key events • Interviews and field visits • Workshop – two levels • Farmers & local-level technical officers • Map actors and events important for changes in local policies and institutions • Conducted in Tigrinya • Woreda and Regional-level officials and NGOs • Map actors, events and behaviour leading to development of Hillside Guideline • Conducted in English • Follow-up interviews

  11. Key events and activities • Large number of small and medium scale development projects – donor/NGO supported • Major ILRI/IFPRI research 1996-2002 on sustainable land management in Tigray • Wide range of related research by various actors on issues of land degradation and management of communal resources • Tigray Forest Action Plan 1997

  12. Tigray Hillside Guideline policy process - simplified

  13. Policy change process: • Initiative started independently in one village – Echmare in northeast Tigray • Pressures of landlessness and poor success from previous community-based forest initiatives • Local Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development (BOARD) supported the initiative • Word spread • Externally – between communities • Internally within BOARD • Case studies done in TFAP process • Hillside Guidelines passed 1997

  14. What didn’t play a role? • No evidence that research played a role in this regional-level policy change • Except the BOARD internal case studies. • NGOs/donors did not initiate the practice, though they now support the approach as part of integrated SWC measures

  15. Lessons 1: • Simple initiatives addressing locally-relevant NRM issues can result in local policy change. • Innovative approach to solve a very real problem (two…) • If NRM research is more closely linked to grass-roots practice – communities and service deliverers, findings may be more readily taken up in policy change. • Who makes the actual decisions on land management? • Seeing is believing and good news travels when people have seen the impact.

  16. Lessons 2: • Effective internal communication mechanisms within government bodies means evidence can spread effectively within organisations. • Policy/institutional changes may need to be linked to technical interventions. Either on its own may fail to address the problem. • For role of research or NGOs ? • Difficult to draw conclusions. No role in this case. But: • NGO role in spreading and supporting the practice • Particular NGO types in Ethiopia • Research role in wider dissemination beyond what can be managed by ‘own-eye’ experience

  17. Thank you!