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date: 27 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores changes that have occurred in the ways rural people access, use, control, and transfer land rights as Ethiopia has transitioned from the old feudal-like monarchy, through nearly two decades of military-led socialism, to the current market-led, decentralized system. The regimes embraced contrasting land policies and development approaches. However, the chapter reveals a dominant pattern in the outcome. At each juncture, land policy choice was systematically entangled with the political exigency of expanding central control down to community and household levels. Policy debates across regimes appeared less informed by what farmers themselves were trying to do to extricate themselves from the burdens of chronic food insecurity and poverty. Successive reforms failed to guarantee land access for young farmers who came of age. This generational tension in turn has impeded the tenure security and transferability of household holdings, despite the government’s efforts to address these problems.

Keywords: land tenure, land policy, land markets, holding inequality, title certification

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