Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


Morning Session, 25 November 2003

Chairperson: Dr Belay Demissie, USAID

THE CHAIRPERSON INVITED PARTICIPANTS FOR ANY COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS THEY MAY HAVE REGARDING THE MORNING SESSION. The first question related to measures taken by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of Ethiopia (at Federal level) in formulating policies and overcoming the existing environmental problems related to natural resource management in Ethiopia.

The EPA representative, Ato Yigzaw, explained that it took policy development nearly ten years to develop the conservation strategy for Ethiopia. It was participatory and had to pass through a consultation process before it was finally adopted by the Government. Implementation is the main problem facing the country, though it is common problem in Ethiopia. Conservation strategy is not only EPA's mandate, but it is everyone's responsibility and EPA is working with all the regions. Further explanation was requested by participants on land use and land management policy of the Amhara Region, specifically the implementation process of this policy.

The representative of the Environmental Protection, Land Use and Land Administration provided a brief presentation for the Amhara Region. He highlighted that policy, proclamation, directives have been developed in the region, and appeals and arbitration committees have now been formed. An information and documentation system is being instituted where data will be collected and compiled at Kebele level, while digital formats will be used at the regional level.

Land certification is seen as a priority of the Region. All lands in Kebele will be registered including marginal lands. The Region's commitment to issue land certification as a means of addressing tenure security was confirmed, but the problem is that issuing 4 million certificates is a huge task and requires a budget equal to that of the whole Region. This process needs resources, capacity development and technical support, which is currently lacking. The right of the owner to use the land as collateral is also allowed by the Region. Compensation and estimating the actual value of land is a very important aspect of land tenure security, but procedures and implementation on valuation of properties has proved difficult.

The other issue under discussion was on the commonly referred figure of 66 percent of available cultivable land (based on the Ethiopian Highland Reclamation Study) of which only 12 percent is utilized, which has been used over 20 years without looking into the actual truth on the ground now. Participants pointed out that the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has been continuously using these statistics, which are different from reality. The 66 percent figure includes the Ogaden, which is a lowland and arid area. It also includes grazing lands. The opinion of Ato Desalegn that there is not a single land left uncultivated (observed while traveling by plane from Addis to Bahir Dar) is a very important point and could be relevant to other parts of the country.

Other participants put forward a counter argument that the 66 percent cultivable land may not be an exaggeration. A grazing land could be cultivable. Degraded mountains could be used for income generation such as tree cultivation. How to make the mountain areas more productive is not a question of figures alone, it is also a matter of choosing the best option.

Participants pointed out that there is an urgent need to verify the land situation as the supporting evidence of 66 percent arable land seems thin. Based on this figure, the Government and even the Prime Minister have indicated that land in Ethiopia is plentiful. This could be misleading in terms of policy formulation as this is also the basis for a resettlement policy.

The discussion on resettlement attracted a great deal of attention among participants. The experience of resettlement under the previous military government (the Dergue) was considered a disaster. The current Government's resettlement plan has many pitfalls as well. Resettlement faces many constraints. Infrastructure is one major bottleneck. Disease is another problem. The current ethnic-based regional governments could result in a serious ethnic conflict to resettle people from the famine-affected areas of the north where land is scarce to the south and western parts of Ethiopia (where good lands are available). The Government is now looking for US$250 million donors support for resettlement and some suggested that these resources are better spent in creating more jobs and more development if utilized properly. Concerns were also raised by the massive nature of the resettlement programme. From the little information, we have at the moment, the average land given to a settler is one or less than one hectare and the issue of sustainability of production is also a factor. There are also healths risks as many of the resettlement areas are affected by malaria.

Dr Alemneh made a concluding remark that we need to be cautious about what type of resettlement is being considered and promoted. He neither opposes nor supports resettlement on a wholesale basis. Movement of people from one region of Ethiopia to another without any Government intervention has happened in the last century and has worked well. The problem is when resettlement becomes a Government-led campaign enforced on the population often with coercion. The Government's role should be only in creating the essential conditions to facilitate and induce the movement of people into less densely populated and remote areas through the provision of roads, clinics, schools and freeing land markets.

Other comments, questions and suggestions forwarded by participants included:

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page