FIG Peer Review Journal


The Cadastral System in Eritrea: Practice, Constraints, and Prospects (3198)

Habtemicael Weldegiorgis (Eritrea)
Mr. Habtemicael Weldegiorgis
Director General
Ministry of Land, Water and Environment(MLWE)
Cadastral Office
Cadastral, Office, MLWE, Asmara, Eritrea
P. O. BOX -976
1A 173-12
Corresponding author Mr. Habtemicael Weldegiorgis (email: hweldegiorgis[at], tel.: 291-1-124253 (office),291-1-202414 (residence))

[ abstract ] [ handouts ] [ handouts ]

Published on the web 2009-02-16
Received 2008-12-01 / Accepted 2009-02-16
This paper is one of selection of papers published for the FIG Working Week 2009 in Eilat, Israel and has undergone the FIG Peer Review Process.

FIG Working Week 2009
ISBN 978-87-90907-73-0 ISSN 2307-4086


This paper attempts to briefly state the Cadastral System in Eritrea with focus on practice, constraints and prospects. The office for the registration of land and other immovable property was established during the Italian colonial period in 1888 with the main purpose of guaranteeing security of ownership. The purpose of the cadastral system, unlike that of Western Europe that aimed at taxation was established for guaranteeing security of ownership for the Italian settlers in Eritrea. The Cadastre Office existed for more than a century, but without any change of procedure. The registration system remained voluntary having neither national nor definite geographical coverage. The main focus remained on urban and some rural commercial areas. The Cadastre Office and that of the Notary Public worked in close collaboration, but experienced difficult periods and attempts at their elimination during the Ethiopian colonial rule. However, they survived as institutions. In the post independence years, Land and Registration Laws were proclaimed to facilitate the pace of development. However, due to the so called ‘Border War’ with Ethiopia and the prevailing conditions of ‘no war, no peace’, the main part of the proclamation, providing usufruct land rights to rural people greatly remained un-implemented. Besides, although compulsory the cadastral system still operates largely on voluntary basis due to low institutional infrastructure. Moreover, records are also manually kept making data integration difficult. Land as resource to be managed properly needs accurate information, but institutional infrastructural constraints prevail. Besides, in many countries, land administration and their core cadastral components are essential infrastructure facilitating implementation of land policies. This constraint and the objective conditions of the country did not support that purpose. The office made feasibility study and based on this has set its priorities, medium and long term objectives and strategies. The cadastral system has not gone far beyond urban areas. The benefits of cadastral system in Eritrea’s reality have also been stated. The need for control, standardization, and coordination is great. Overall, there is low institutional infrastructural capacity. Finally, attempts have been made to bring comparative practice from the European experience, and have opted for a realistic approach of cadastral system, a ‘progressive cadastre’ that goes step by step to a cadastre having a comprehensive coverage and automation. It is not a choice to be made but a must to be done by a country to properly manage its land and resources and fit with the global economy competitively.
Keywords: Professional practice; Capacity building; Cadastre; Land management; Land distribution; Security of tenure; Access to land; Legislation; History