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Access to Land and Resource Management in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa

28 November 1997

In the Horn of Africa, where most people depend on crop cultivation and raising livestock for their livelihood, land is not considered as property, but as a vital resource to which everybody needs access. Access and rights to land in this part of Africa have multi-dimensional implications: economic, political and spiritual. However, when land is owned by the state or by land-owners, there are major implications for the tenants in exercising their civil and political rights. Furthermore, for some people, land has a spiritual significance; they believe humans come into being from the crust of the earth.

In several countries in the region, peasant farmers have been coerced into following the wishes of the land-owners, be they state or individual. Thus land issues are extremely sensitive and unless handled and addressed carefully they can become the cause of violent conflicts. Prospects for sustainable peace and development in the region very much depend on these rights being respected.

Please note that the terminology in the fields of minority rights and indigenous peoples’ rights has changed over time. MRG strives to reflect these changes as well as respect the right to self-identification on the part of minorities and indigenous peoples. At the same time, after over 50 years’ work, we know that our archive is of considerable interest to activists and researchers. Therefore, we make available as much of our back catalogue as possible, while being aware that the language used may not reflect current thinking on these issues.

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