Policies and Practices of Urban Land Governance in the Special Zone of Oromia Region Surrounding Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Land is one of the vital resources required for economic growth and development in developing countries including Ethiopia. Its mechanisms of governance have far-reaching implications for the wider socio-economic, political, and cultural well-being of the society. In Ethiopia, since the coming into effect of the 1995 FDRE Constitution, the government has endorsed a range of urban land reforms based on state-ownership of land. In this context, two of the recently adopted legislations are urban land management policy and urban land lease holding proclamation, both enacted in 2011. These and other subsequent institutional and regulatory frameworks are believed to improve the way urban land is governed. However, the implementation of these policies and laws has been followed by jumbled results whereby the majority of urban residents and farmers in adjacent territories of urban centers are affected. As observed by the researcher, towns in the Special Zone of Oromia Region Surrounding Addis Ababa have one of the highest rates of urbanization both in the region and in the country. However, little is known about the ways urban land is governed in these small hitherto rapidly growing towns. Therefore, the study has examined the policies and practices of urban land governance in the Zone focusing on three major towns: Sebeta, Gelan, and Sendafa-Bake towns. The study has employed eight principles of democratic governance perspective in analyzing the nature of land governance in the study towns. In doing so, it has used a mixed methods research approach within the frameworks of a pragmatic knowledge claim. Both qualitative and quantitative data are collected, analyzed, and interpreted in line with the assumptions of concurrent triangulation research design. Data is collected through interview schedule, key informant interviews, FGDs, personal observation, and document analysis techniques. Sample households, community key informants, government officials at municipal, regional, and federal levels are the primary sources of information for the study. In the selection of sample households, probabilistic sampling techniques are employed while key informants and FGDs' participants are chosen purposively. Quantitative data is analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics whereas qualitative data is analyzed using content analysis of interviews & FGDs, text analysis of documents, and narration of facts. Data collection, analysis, and interpretation have given equal weight to both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the research. The findings of the study indicate that the urban land policies and legal frameworks of the government are not successful in ensuring democratic land governance in the study area. The government follows a centralized, top-down, and elite dominating approaches in the land policy-making process. It neglects the values and principles of democratic governance in the land policies. This hinders the incorporation of the ideas, values, knowledge, interest, and resources of citizens and other stakeholders in the policy formulation and implementation activities. This, in turn, has resulted in the deterioration of the legitimacy of the institutional frameworks of the government. Additionally, the study found out that the human resource competency and capacity of municipal administrations is limited. Lack of adequate level of academic competency, skills, and professional integrity characterize the nature of human resources in the Land Management and Development Offices. Professional independence of officials is also defective as corruption, political loyalty, and nepotism influence the standard-based performance of employees. The study reveals that the professional ethical codes of conduct are seldom applied in the provision of municipal land and land-related services. The process of land governance has affected the lives of urban residents and adjacent farmers in the study area. Limitations on the right to access land, expansion of squatter settlements, widespread corruption, & misappropriation, deterioration of the lives of expropriated residents and farmers, distortions of housing markets, farmers resistance to new urban expansions, and poor quality service delivery are the major effects of land governance in the study towns. Besides, the multiple regression results show that land policies and practices significantly affect land development, tenure security, the sustainability of supply of housing land, and performance of municipal land service delivery. xiii In this regard, several institutional, administrative, technological, political, and human resource challenges affect the land governance system. Appropriate policy as well as legal intervention is thus, required to improve the way urban land is governed. Institutional frameworks including the Constitution are expected to integrate the values of democratic governance to protect the rights of citizens and society as well as ensure inclusive and sustainable land use and development. Administrative, technological, and human resource improvements are also required to pull out the urban land governance system from its drawbacks.



Democratic Governance, Land Governance, Policymaking Process