Mehdi Labzaé: On some political effects of land registration


On some political effects of land registration: Remarks from Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambella, par/by Mehdi LABZAÉ (Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne/CESSP)

Délégation de l’Union européenne auprès de l’Éthiopie, Cape Verde Road, en face du Desalegn Hotel, Addis-Abeba (Mercredi 27 avril 2016, 15h) / European Union Delegation to Ethiopia, Cape Verde Road, opposite Desalegn Hotel, Addis Ababa (Wednesday, April 27th, 2016, 3 PM).

Un évènement coorganisé par la Délégation de l’UE auprès de l’Éthiopie et le CFEE / This lecture is jointly organised by the EU Delegation to Ethiopia and the CFEE.

On some political effects of land registration: remarks from Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambella

In the spring of 2013, peasants were expelled from Benishangul-Gumuz by authorities who told them that their ethnic belonging forbid them to have access to land in the region. Later, in the fall of 2014, a conflict broke out in Gambella’s Majangzone, killing dozens of people and forcing several thousand to flee. Both events occurred while government authorities were preparing the implementation of land registration programmes aiming at securing peasants’ landholdings. The presentation aims at shedding light upon the political dimensions of land registration programmes within the ethno-federal institutional framework.

For the past 15 years, the formal recognition of peasants’ land rights have been carried out in the four ‘central’ regions (Amhara, Tigray, Oromiya, SNNPR), and reached the peripheries in the past 5 years. Ethiopia’s land registration programmes follows international land policy framework: the formal recognition of land right through the delivery of land titles would make peasants’ holdings more secure, thus supporting peasants’ investment in their parcels, giving smallholders access to credit, allowing a more efficient repartition of land holdings through market mechanisms, etc. This policy is implemented with a substantial support from foreign donors.

However, in Western peripheries, land registration policy encounters other long-trend political processes, such as the government’s will to ‘liberate’ land for private investors. In need of available ‘free’ land, governmental authorities reframe their understanding of ethno-federal institutions, leading to new definitions of who is entitled to land, and eventually to peasant evictions. The presentation explains how land registration in the peripheries can give new meanings to ethno-federal institutions.

L’intervenant / The speaker

Mehdi Labzaé is a PhD student at Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne (CESSP) and a regular collaborator of CFEE. He conducts research in sociology of land registration in Western Ethiopia.

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