100 MIZAN LAW REVIEW, Vol. 12, No.1 September 2018
In Ethiopia, communal land rights and attendant matters are largely discussed in
terms of pastoral society or semi-pastoral society. However there are communal
lands among the smallholder farmers as well. Hadiya Zone (in SNNPRS) is
taken for the purpose of case study so that it can give insight to the problems
discussed in this article. There are gaps in the legal regime in the protection of
communal land rights thereby undermining livelihood diversification. Little
attention is given to protect communal lands among smallholder farmers, and
the steady erosion of customary rules and institutions call for serious reform.
Land is among the most important assets for the rural population.1 It is vital
source of livelihood and can be part of cultural and social identities.2 Especially,
it is the sole source of livelihood for the overwhelming majority of the rural
poor and is the most crucial medium to alleviate rural poverty.3According to
World Bank and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development)
report, out of the total population of third world countries, 75% are rural
dwellers.4 In Ethiopia, more than 83% of the total population are rural dwellers.5
Land in Ethiopia, for rural residents, is more than source of livelihood.6
Landlessness can put one‟s life into jeopardy and erode social identity
1 Desalegn Rahmato (2008), The P easant and The State: Studies in Agraria n Cha nge in
Ethiopia 1950s – 2000s (Create Space Independent Publishing Platform) 1-15; Berhanu
Abegaz (2004), „Escaping Ethiopia`s Poverty Trap: The Case for a Second Agrarian
Reform‟ Journal of Modern African Studies, No.42; John W. Bruce and Others (2006),
Land Law Reform, Achieving Development Policy Objectives (T he International Bank for
Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank) 1-5.
2 Rachael S. Knight (2006), „Statutory Recognition of Customary Land Rights in Africa: An
Investigation into Best Practices for Law Making and Implementation‟ (FAO 2010) 1 -3.
3 Muradu A. Srur, (2015) State Policy and Law in Relation to Land Alienation in Ethiopia
(University o f War wick, School of Law, PhD Thesis 2014) 1-3; Muradu A. Srur,
„Reforming Expropriation Law of Ethiopia‟, Mizan Law Review, Vol. 9, No.2, 301.
4 2017 World Bank Poverty Assessment, infra note, 41; see also, Klauis Dieninger (2011)
and others, „Rising Global Interest in Farm Land: Can it yield Sustainable and Equitable
Benefits? (The World Bank) 1-7.
5 Daniel Behailu, (2015) Transfer of La nd Rights in Ethiopia: Towards Sustainable Policy
Fra me Work (Eleven International Publishing); Richard Pankhurst (1966), State a nd Land
in Ethiopian Histor y, Preface (Central Printing Press) 1-10.
6 Daniel Behailu Geberamanuel and Gemmeda Amelo Gurero, (2017),„The Enigma of
Informal Rural Land Deals In E thiopia: Evidence from Peri- urban Areas of Hawassa City, ‟
Hara maya Law Review 6, 43-66
7 Daniel W. Ambaye, ( 2012), „Land Rights in Ethiopia: Ownership, Equity, and Liberty in
Land Use Rights‟, FIG Working Week Rome, Italy, 6-10, pp. 1-5.