Customary Land Ownership and Its Impact on Government Interventions: The Case of Peri-Urban Areas of Jig-Jiga Town

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Addis Ababa University


The main objective of this study was to assess customary land ownership, related issues and government interventions with their challenging nexus and policy implications: And a special reference was made to those peri-urban areas of Jig-Jiga town. The necessary data for the study were generated both from primary and secondary sources. Hence, in-depth interviews, key-informant interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs) and documentary reviews were the principal means of generating data from primary and secondary sources. The findings of this study confirmed that despite many challenges customary land (farm lands, pasture lands, fenced lands) and the economic advantages derived from them; the homogeneity and other attributes of the community, particularly in terms of ethnicity and culture; and attributes of the body of rules constituting the customary land holding system were the main factors that enabled the users to kept intact and held land resources over many generations under their customary clan system in the study area. Thus, based on the findings of the study, merging the two systems into one has been practically impossible to the local government thereby interventions were challenged at times when customary lands needed. This is because there has been absence of a well-defined legal framework that supports the customary system in the town. Furthermore, the finding has also showed that the existing customary rules let individual clan members to exercise absolute control over their respective land and to have more freedom to transact their land in the informal ways. In addition, the finding indicated that government encroachments‟ to those customarily owned lands has been also devastating to the customary land owners. Such interpositions enforced customary land owners to transact their land unofficially thereby paved also the way for informal land market in the town. Therefore, harmonizing the current gap between the customary land rights and the statutory tenure system is the only possible way out for coping up with all the challenges and problems revealed in the findings. Therefore, any intervention policy or measures that will be applied in those areas should be based on understanding and harmonizing the gap between the two land tenure systems



Customary land ownership; government intervention; statutory tenure ; customary rules; clans; landholding; impacts