FIG Peer Review Journal


Land Rights in Ethiopia (5521)

Daniel Weldegebriel Ambaye (Ethiopia)
Mr. Daniel Weldegebriel Ambaye
Bahir Dar University, Institute of Land Administra
Daniel W. Ambaye
Bahir Dar
Corresponding author Mr. Daniel Weldegebriel Ambaye (email: danambaye[at], tel.: +251 918 762501)

[ abstract ] [ paper ] [ handouts ]

Published on the web 2012-03-08
Received 2011-11-01 / Accepted 2012-02-02
This paper is one of selection of papers published for the FIG Working Week 2012 in Rome, Italy and has undergone the FIG Peer Review Process.

FIG Working Week 2012
ISBN 97887-90907-98-3 ISSN 2307-4086


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the land rights in current Ethiopia as envisaged in the existing legislations-federal and regional ones-and to assess the adequacy of the liberties provided therein. Finally, it tries to forward some possible recommendations. The Ethiopian Constitution under article 40 (3) declares that all urban and rural land as well as natural resources would be the property of the Ethiopian people and the state. In effect as trustee of the people the state controls all land property. And yet rural peasants and pastoralists are guaranteed a piece of land free of charge. The right granted to them is known as “holding right” that gives them all prerogatives except sale and mortgage. To secure such rights, the constitution has put a check on government power of eviction. Government may not expropriate land unless it is needed for public purpose and against payment of “commensurate” amount of compensation. Similarly urban dwellers are given rights, under other laws, to secure land under lease arrangement. The state ownership of land in current Ethiopia is far from perfect since it restricts the different land rights of use, rent, lease, donation, and inheritance for different reasons. Since redistribution of land is highly restricted access to rural land is also almost nonexistent. Although the constitutional guarantee for “commensurate” amount of compensation is commendable, subsequent implementing proclamations have violated this protection by denying market value (fair compensation) for loss of property. By creating more access to rural land, liberating the land holding rights, and by compensating fairly the loss of properties during expropriation, the current government can give more secure land rights comparing to its predecessors.
Keywords: Legislation; land rights; holding rights; expropriation; large-scale agricultural investment