Assessment of Impact of Rural Land Certification on Land Management and Tenure Security. The Case of Wolaita Zone Sodo Zuria Wereda

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2021

20 Pages, Grade: 2



This study is carried out to assess the impact of rural land certification on land development and tenure security. Land is the ultimate resource; without it life on earth cannot be sustained and it is both a physical commodity and an abstract concept in that the rights to own or use it are as much a part of the land as the objects rooted in its soil. Good and proper management of the land is essential for present and future generations with due care and protection. To have good management of land, assuring of owner sense/tenure security by a means of certifying is also a core and indispensable practice of land administration. Therefore, this paper is focus on the impacts of rural land certification on land development and tenure security on the rural farm land users in Sodo Zuria Wereda. More specifically it had been attempted to assess the impacts of rural land certification on the farmers’ tenure security; to identify the change of rural farmers ’ perspectives on tenure security before and after certification; and to investigate the intervention of land certification on land development. Descriptive research designs as well a qualitative and quantitative research approaches were employed. Both probability and non­probability sampling method used to get potential respondents and sample size was determined using sampling distribution of proportion method, hence 120 HHs were selected (80% (96) male and 20% (24) female HHs). Finally, systematic random sampling method was applied by taking the nth element of the sample frame. A questionnaire, interview survey and FGD were also used to collect the required data. Based on collected data the analysis was done using software like SPSS and Microsoft Excel and data were presented by different data presentation tools like tables, graphs and photograph. The results of the thesis that were found by analyzing the respondent’s response, conclusion of the result and finally concrete recommendation were commented on this thesis.

Key Words: Certification, Tenure Security, Land Management, Impacts and Farmers Perspectives.


Land is the ultimate resource, for without it life on earth cannot be sustained and it is both a physical commodity and an abstract concept in that the rights to own or use it are as much a part of the land as the objects rooted in its soil Cotula et al. (2004). The issue of land tenure insecurity has long been considered as an impediment to growth in the agricultural sector and stagnation of the overall economic development of the country Hoben (2000). As indicated by different studies, land tenure insecurity is a major factor for land degradation, agricultural product reduction; social and political instability, food insecurity and unsustainable land use (UN-Habitat, 2014; Hoben, 2000; Deininger et al., 2008).

As the report of (UN-Habitat 2014) asserts, millions of people around the world still have insecure land tenure and property rights. Most land in sub-Saharan Africa has no registration of who owns it or has rights to use it Toulmin (2005). Tenure insecurity is crucial in rural Ethiopia since the 1975 radical land reform, which grants rights to the state and usufruct rights to farmers Kebede (2008). Thus, good management of the land is essential for present and future generations Hooft (2009).

Secure land tenure and property rights enable people in urban and rural areas to invest in improved homes and livelihoods (UN-Habitat 2014). It is often argued that land registration guarantees the security of land rights, which is an incentive for investing in land-based economic activities and also improves access to credit facilities as registered title is a secure form of collateral Raymond et al. (2007).

Present government of Ethiopia has taken measurement to improve rural land tenure problems by the provision of different land administration laws, the establishment of land administration institutions, and land registration and certification Action Aid Ethiopia (AAE) (2006). Thus, rural land registration and certification in Ethiopia was started in 1998 Amdissa (2006). Wolayta Zone also start in all its Weredas and issuing the certificate to rural farmers starting from 2005. Sodo Zuriya Woreda-Land Administration, Use and Environmental Protection (SZW-LAUEP) report of (2008). According to the data of SZW-LAUEP (2008), primary land certificate were issued to all rural farmers of the wereda’s and the secondary rural land certification were issued to eight kebeles of it.

This study was intently focused on the assessment of impacts of rural land certificate on rural farmer’s tenure security and the change observed on the land management due to certification. The reason why this study emphasizes on this topic is that, to investigate and overview the controversial ideas of rural land certificate and the change in tenure security and management on the land.

2. Statement of the Problem

Obviously, for rural residents of most developing countries including Ethiopia, land is the primary means of production used to generate a livelihood for a family. It is also the main asset that farmers have to accumulate wealth and, equally importantly, is what they can transfer in the form of wealth to future generations. Thus, the size of the land that they own and the level of security they have in their holdings affect a household's income, and their incentive to work and to invest (Solomon et al, 2006; UN-Habitat, 2012; UN-Habitat, 2014).

In Ethiopia frequent land redistribution was a threat for insecurity of land rights in the past regimes. Successive national governments in the country have implemented differing approaches to the distribution of rural land. Declining agricultural production, accelerated land degradation, massive deforestation, land fragmentation, confined labor mobility, in general rooted poverty, recurrent drought and poor economic growth is being the main results of poor land administration and lack of secure tenure to invest permanently on the land in sustainable bases in our country and specially, around the Wolaita Zone’s.

Wolaita zone especially, high land areas are well known in their population density and their holding was more fragmented due to inheritance, divorce and land degradation. It is natural that without secured property rights farmers do not feel emotional attachment to the land they cultivate, do not invest in land development and will not use inputs efficiently Shimelles et al. (2009). Distribution and provision of rural farm land to investment and other public purposes, expropriation of farmers from their holdings without commensurate compensation and horizontal urban expansion to the rural farmers are the root problem to current farmers land security in Wolaita zone and all Ethiopia and it became a threat to farmers’ tenure security to not well develop their holding sustainably.

Thus, from the currently observable situation of rural land administration system and perspectives of rural farmers, the main view of this paper is to observe the effect of rural land certification on land tenure security and its intervention on farmers land management around the study areas.

3. Research Methodology

3.1. Description of the Study Area

Wolaita Zone is located at about 380km South of Addis Ababa at the central part of Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPRS). It is one of the 14 administrative Zones of the region and bordered on the south by Gamo Gofa Zone, on West by Dawro Zone, on Northwest by Kembata Tambaro Zone, on North by Hadiya Zone, on Northeast by the Oromiya Region, and on East by Sidama Zone Wolaita Zone Agriculture and Natural Resource Annual Report (WZANR) (2008).

This study can be carried out in areas of Wolaita Zone Sodo Zuria Wereda’s especially, in Kebeles of Mante Gerera, Waraza Gerera, Tome Gerera and Waraza Shoho. Wolayta Zone has twelve (12) administrative districts/Weredas and Sodo Zuria is one of them which include thirty one Kebele administrative units. According to Wereda’s Farm and Natural Resource Annual Report (2008), the area of Sodo Zuria Woreda is 40,805 hectare, of which 27,657 hectare cultivated land, which consist of (67.78%), the rest 13,148 hectare which accounts (32.22%) includes non-cultivable land such as, pastoral land, forest bush and shrub land, covered by water, market area and non-cultivable stoniness and gullies are some of land accounts for other land uses SZW-LAUEP office report (20081.

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Figure: Map of the Study Area (2015)

3.2. Research Design

3.2.1. Sampling Design

In this study, probability sampling such as (stratified sampling and simple random sampling) and non-probability sampling like (purposive sampling) technique were used to select sample kebeles’ such as (Tome Gerera, Mante Gerera, Waraza Gerera, and Waraza Shoho) and number of sample units for this study.

The study Woreda (Sodo Zuria) was selected purposefully from the total of twelve Woredas of Wolaita Zone and from thiry one Kebele of the Woreda’s, four Kebeles were also selected purposefully. The criteria used for the selection of the kebeles were distance from the administrative center of the Woreda and the Zone Town and their state of secondary level certificate issuance being in a way. From four kebeles, half of Waraza Gerera (1075 HH) and total of Waraza Shoho (855 HH) were included in to Town administration and half of Waraza Gerera (1129 HH), total of Mante Gerera (1847 HH) and Tome Gerera (1602 HH) were not included.

The selection criteria provide additional support to the researcher; to see whether or not there were differences on the tenure security those found in distances from the town and at the periphery of the town. Thus, to find representative sample from the population (sample frame) of the study kebeles, first the population found in the study area can be grouped in to two strata based on their distance from the main town and administrative division. The two which found the periphery of the town such as Waraza Shoho and half of Waraza Gerera (1930 HH) were included as one stratum and half of Waraza Gerera, Tome Gerera and Mante Gerera (4578 HH) included as the other stratum. Totally, 6508 HHs were found in the four study kebeles’.

To carry out the study in all population of the study area, there were time, budget and labor limitations. Thus, approximately 2 percent (1.85%) population (120 HHs) was selected from the total population of the study areas’ (6508 HH). The 120 households were taken, by giving equal proportion to each kebele populations.

From 120 households, 80% (96) was taken from male and 20% (24) from female households. To minimize sampling biases, by using systematic random sampling methods was conducted. Finally, systematic random sampling method was applied by taking the nth element of the sample frame.

Table 1: Sample Distribution to Each Study Kebeles

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Source: SZW-LAUEP Office (2015)

The descriptive type of research design is going to be used in order to investigate the difference between rural land certificate and tenure security. The data’s for studying was collected from both primary and secondary sources and described for investigating the reality and also observed the change in development due to rural land certification. In addition to this, describing the research study from both quantitative and qualitative data collected using the data gathering tools was performed.

3.2.2. Data analysis and Interpretation

The data analysis process was done after the desired data were collected from different sources through various tools of information gathering. The Data collected from different sources were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Data collected through questionnaire about issues related to certification and land investments were analyzed quantitatively using descriptive statistics such as percentiles, and ratios. The responses from Focus Group Discussions and interviews were compiled, summarized and interpreted qualitatively by cross checking with responses of questionnaires. The information collected from other key informants was also qualitatively expressed.


4.1.Socio-Economic Profile of the Respondents

4.1.1. Land Holding Size of the Respondents

Form the total SNNPR Zones, Wolaita Zone is the one that was known by densely population. According to household survey results of the study area, the land holding size of the respondents ranges between 0.01 hectares to 1.97 hectare. Majority of the respondent categories, about (54%) lays down less than 0.5 hectares and those who have more than 1.5 hectares are the list category of the respondents only about (9%).

Table 1: Land Holding Size of the Respondents

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Table 2: Respondents Land Holding Size

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4.1.2. Mechanisms of Getting Land Holding Access

The rural farmer whose livelihood was based on farming activities, land is the prominent resource. The rural farmers accessed land through inheritance, redistribution, gift and allotment. Population growth becomes the core factors that results a pressure on this basic resource. Inheritance is one of the core ways of getting land access than the others in the study area. From the total of 120 respondents 100 (83.3%) get the land through inheritance and from the rest twenty (20) respondents, thirteen 13 (10.8%) respondents were accessed both inheritance and redistributions. Population pressure was led to fragmentation of farm land through inheritances. According to Dessalegn (2004), population pressure was considered as one of influencing/aggravating factors to tenure insecurity. Fragmentation of farm land by inheritance and other means of land holding access considered as a threat to tenure security. Berhanu (2009) also asserts that the struggle to access and control land increases and could be a threat to tenure security if the rural population livelihood rely only on land and have no or little income from other non-farm activities. However, with increasing population pressure this has led to smaller and smaller farm sizes over time and average farm sizes have reached particularly low levels in Wolaita 0.43 hectares Holden et al,. (2008).

Table 31: Mechanisms of getting holding access

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Source: Household Survey (2015)

To this end, the socio economic and demographic information of the respondents such as their sex, age, household family sizes, land holding size and mechanisms of getting parcels were collected and summarized as shown in the table below.

4.2. Rural Farmers Perception on Their Tenure Rights

4.2.1. Farmers Understanding

Frequent land redistribution and eviction from holding in the past regimes and expropriation to public investment purposes in current regime were the main threat for insecurity of the land right in the country and in the region. It is obvious that current government tried to take measure to increase holders’ tenure security by measuring, registering and granting holding certificate. To use land resources efficiently and sustainable base, different proclamation was proclaimed and amended in the country as well as in the regions. The Environmental Protection, Land Administration and Use Authority (EPLAUA) were delegated and set up to implement this rights. But the farmers’ understanding on those proclamations was too far.

Public awareness is a prerequisite in a land registration system that land owners and the general public understand the process sufficiently to have confidence in its Brehabu (2009). Hence both qualitative and quantitative questionnaire were designed to investigate farmers understanding on process, issuance and making them to participate in the registration and certification process. Additionally, by this section an assessment of rights that they had an obligation on the land and also the level of the awareness of the selected land holders about the objectives of the land registration and certification were investigated. The following table summarized the respondents view on the target points.

Table 4: Farmers Understanding and Perception Survey before Implementation of Land Registration and Certification Program

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Source: Household Survey Results (2015)

While investigating the response of farmers that concerned with awareness creation through community meeting and discussion about the land registration and certification objectives, about 24.2% of all the respondents reported that they not attend in meeting and discussions about land registration before implementation. As a result, about 34.2% interviewer response shows that lack of knowledge regarding to the objectives of implementing land registration and certification programme. Although farmers and community interest become high in registration and certification program implementation, there were a problems in timely accomplishment of the program. As the respondent result identification, main cause to the occurrence of problems in the way of registration and certification program were not availing farmers during registration, wrong border allocation by farmers, border dispute between them and the tidies nature of the work itself. Contrarily, without doing complete making of public awareness, there were complete work of primary level land registration and certifications and the two kebeles of Waraza Gerera and Waraza Shoho were issued with secondary level certificates.

Focus group discussion confirmed that there have not deep knowledge and understanding about the objectives of implementing land registration and certification programme when implementing it prior. But from issuance and having of holding certificates they understood its objectives.

4.2.2. Status of Certificate Issuance to the Farmers

The SNNPR Government promulgated the Land Use and Administration Proclamation No.53/2003 based on the Federal and the regional constitution. The proclamation defined the right of land holders, i.e., the right to use, rent and inherit. In addition to this proclamation, an implementation guideline was developed by the former Environmental Protection, Land Administration and Use Authority of the region. Land under private cultivation is registered with its size and identification of the individual that has legal holding right Solomon et al. (2006).

A land registration and title certification pilot program was started in March 2004. Wolaita Zone is selected as a pilot zone and Sodo Zuria Woreda is a one that carried out pilot land registration and certification program in 2004. From pilot program evaluation a traditional land registration program was launched all over the region immediately after the conference Solomon et al. (2006).

Afterward 2004, primary certificate were issued to all farmers and secondary certificate that is supported with map is currently on going activities. As household surveying response point out 100% of respondents holding were measured and registry certificate were issued to all farmers found the study areas. In addition to primary certificate, they were received secondary level certificates that are supported with cadastral maps. Although secondary level measurements were completed and certificates were provided to the farmers, about 15.8% were not considered the difference between them with regard to increasing tenure security. The rest 84.2% identify their difference clearly and point out its importance to accuracy 44.2%, clarity, explanatory 30%, and security 25.8%. The interview investigation indicates the two Kebele farmers (Waraza Gerera and Waraza Shoho) were hold both primary and secondary certificates and the 5% from those both Kebele holds only primary certificates than secondary.

Although measurement and data collection process of second level registration were completed in the four study areas, some certificates were in a process of issuing and there were at Kebele office which was prepared to distribute to them. Thus, the way of issuance certificates and eagerness of farmers to measure and receive the land holding certificate were one of the implications of farmers’ tenure security.

Table 2: Survey of the Way of Farmers Land Registration and Certification Status

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Source: Household Survey Results (2015)

4.3.The Effects of Land Certification on Tenure Security

Once land has been cataloged and registered in functioning, decentralized registries, the next component of an effective property rights system is a clear definition of what those property rights mean and what entitlements their holders receive. Ideally, land tenure should be secure, long-lasting, equitable, and absolute. That is to say, land tenure should not be limited by time, gender, or any other restrictions.

According to Berhanu (2009), land certification is not simply the issuance of certificates. The ultimate objective of land certification is security of land tenure. Thus, this part was focus on the perception of farmers on tenure security due to certificate issuance. To view this household surveying data, and other relevant literature, journal, case studies and woreda’s report were viewed and investigated.

4.3.1. Farmers Perception on tenure security

To investigate whether their perception changed on tenure security due to holding certificate or not the following interviewing results clearly identify their view points on the tenure. Accordingly, about 85.9% respondents were gave similar response on the change of tenure security due to certification. To the qualitative question that are carefully tallied their similar response indicates on their type of change that they observed, about 23.3% were agreed on their tenure security increments, about 19.2% were on the reduction of land border disputes, about 25% were on enhancing production and about 24% respondents were show an increase in confidence on their tenures.

As the focus group discussion result remarks, there were positive observations on their holdings after issuance of land holding certificates. They assured that land certification to be benefit to reduce conflict that made in border, increase the time of spent on their farm, save the asset that they have through reducing costs of accusation and saving exits costs that expended to accuse one with others due to border conflict. They also clearly discussed on their tenure become more due to having holding certificates than ever.

Table 3: Farmers tenure security perception assessments

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Source: Household Survey Results (2015)

Use period is as presented in table 12, also one of determinant factors whether farmers’ tenure secured or not. To the variables whether farmers are restricted to a lease period as an urban residential land or not, their response shows that about 98.3% was indicating strongly concise with non-fixed period use time provision of their holdings.

Although, farmers have trust on non-fixed periods of farm land resource uses, minority 17.5%, and 14.2% have doubt on their holding not be taken illegally without commensurate compensation and women and other vulnerable farmers tenure were secured or not respectively. This result share the finding of Berhanu (2009) that 23.8% were not sure whether their lands would be secure or not. But the majority of respondents 81.7% were agreed on the guarantee of not taken arbitrarily without compensation. This also almost near results with the finding of Brehanu (2009) from his two study areas, in that 78.9% of Shamo's and 84% of Agelahan's respondents feel as guaranteed that all or part of their holdings will not be taken from them by the government without compensation.

4.3.2. Tenure rights that farmers perceived to have

In this part farmers were assessed what rights they have on their holding and investigated whether they know their rights or not. From their response similarly with that of non-fixed lease period, about 98.3% respondents were agreed on the existence of right on their land. Even though the owner of the land and its resource was vested to the state and people of Ethiopia’s, due to an increase in land resource use period, about 26.7% farmers considered as an owner of their holding. The 30% were know in that they have use right and the rest 23.3% and 17.5% shares transfer and renting rights respectively. This may be core indicators of the tenure security that be viewed after registration and issuance of certificates. According to the study conducted by Palm (2010) in Amhara state tenure security is highly appreciated by farmers, and hence resulted in increasing of land investment activities. Another study conducted by Sabita (2010) in the Ethiopian rift valley system (Meskan in SNNP and Adami-tullu Jido kombolcha in Oromiya state) show that 90% of respondents replied that land certification ensured tenure security of farmers on their lands.

Other implications of tenure security provisions were conducted by interviewers are the rights that provided farmers to drive income from their holdings and the right vested to them to manage and control their land freely without external influences. In both cases, farmers have the perception of secure nature of their tenure. The 93.3% and 87.5% respondent results respectively to their access in driving income from land and possibility to control and manage their holdings assure these realities.

Participating stakeholders’ in every development activities is a catalyst to the sustainability of that investment and it create sense of owner. Thus, actively participating in land registration and certification program is essential and crucial tasks. Hence, in this surveying farmers were assessed whether they were participated or not and in what way that they were requested to take participation. As the survey result indicates, 90.8% were participating in boundary identification (43.3), paying for certificates (11.7%) and 36.7% in community meetings.

Although there is use right that provided to farmers to use their holdings appropriately in sustainable manner from EFDR proclamation 456/2005, the discussion of focus group considered that they have own rights to their holdings because of creating sense of owner through issuance of land holding certificates. They assert their tenure become secure due to holding certificates.

Table 4: Farmers Tenure Rights on their Holdings

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Source: Household Survey Result (2015)

4.1. Conclusion

Poor land management is caused by tenure insecurity and one of the downfall impact to the sustainable development on land among farmers and lead to the deep-down poverty, political uncertainty and social instability of the given country.

Land registration and certification was one of the impacts to ensure tenure security that promotes productive land use and investment on it. In Ethiopia, tenure security is assumed to be ensured by rural land registration and certification program.

Farmers exposed to frequent land redistribution in past government and expropriation for the public development case and urbanization were still become a thought of insecurity. But this studies was asserts that the thought insignificant. As the study result that conducted in four Kebele rural farmers indicates that majority of farmers tenure security were insured due to certificates and their development significantly increased due to holding land use certificates. This were assured by their response of that 85.9% perception that have on tenure security were changed as their land belonged to them and thus, currently, they were perform different management activities on land than before holding certificate.

As the group discussion result asserts there was clear tenure security than before due to holding certification. They also assure that before expropriation there were public meeting and discussion on the objective of expropriation and compensation related with expropriators. But the way of compensation is not clear to them and the compensation itself was insignificant when comparing with the development activities carried out on the real state. Especially, the expropriators who reside at the periphery of town were suffering more in compensation than other farmers.

Making farmers to take participation on the process was becoming a catalyst to develop sense of ownership in the farmers’ perception. As the analyzed data from the questionnaire indicates 90.8% were take participation in boundary identification, community meeting and paying for certificates. They also agreed on the reduction of dispute, increase of farming time, reduction of cost that encored to dispute resolution in a court and cumulative increase in land productivity. Their response was explicitly assuring this reality. 74.2% of respondents result points reduction in dispute after provision of land holding certificate 80.8% were reduction on dispute when comparing its occurrence to the past. Due to this, their perception on issuance of land certificate to bring tenure security was positive.

90% of respondent result shows the existence of observed land management intervention change on land which was viewed by doing tree plantation, terrace construction, wisely using the resources and conflict reduction and 93.3% were also perform different land improvement activities on their tenure after the issuance of land holding certificates. Similarly, focus group discussion responses assure this reality.


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Assessment of Impact of Rural Land Certification on Land Management and Tenure Security. The Case of Wolaita Zone Sodo Zuria Wereda
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Ermias Galcho (Author), 2021, Assessment of Impact of Rural Land Certification on Land Management and Tenure Security. The Case of Wolaita Zone Sodo Zuria Wereda, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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