Communal Land Management. Governing Commons and Natural Resources

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2016

29 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Significance of the term paper

3. Objectives of the term paper

4. Methodology of the term paper

5. Scope of the term paper

6. Limitation of the term paper

7. General Overview of the study area

8. Indigenous systems of conflict resolution in Oromia

9. Indigenous range land management of Borena Community and its effectiveness

10. The impact of population growth in the grazing land management

11. Options that are available to give land holding certificate to the Borena community

12. Payment of compensation when communal landholdings are expropriated

13. Gender issues in Borena area

14. Problems in the grazing land management of Borena

15. Conclusion

16. Recommendations

17. List of Acronyms



I would like to give my deep gratitude to the course instructor Teshome Taffa (Asst.Pro), who gave me this assignment to prepare term paper and made me to know some concepts on the subject matter along with accomplishing the task. In addition, my gratitude to our fellow friends, who gave me ideal assistance for the preparation of the term paper, is from the bottom of my heart.

1. Introduction

Land is major economic factor and it is crucial for the development in our Country. Land administration has no any unique definition. The definition varies through time and it also varies based on the defining body. Any scholar defines it differently.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines land administration as “the way in which the rules of land tenure are applied and made operational. Land administration, whether formal or informal comprises an extensive range of systems and processes to administer the allocation of rights in land; the delimitation of boundaries of parcels for which the rights are allocated; the transfer from one party to another through sale, lease, loan, gift or inheritance; and the adjudication of doubts and disputes regarding rights and parcel boundaries; land-use planning and enforcement and the adjudication of land use conflicts; land valuation and taxation; and the adjudication of land valuation and taxation disputes” (UN FAO 2002).The Oromia Rural Lands Administration and Use Proclamation No. 130/2007 and the Oromia Land Administration and Environmental Bureau Establishment Proclamation No.147/2009,in line with the federal Rural Land Administration and Use Proclamation No. 456/2005, define land administration as “a process whereby land tenure security is provided; land use planning is implemented; disputes and conflicts on land are resolved; and the rights and obligations of land holders are enforced and controlled; as well as land related data are collected and analyzed to be availed to users.” (Oromia National Regional State, 2007).

The most commonly accepted definition of land administration is set out in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Land Administration Guidelines (1996) “Land administration is the processes of recording and disseminating information about ownership, value, and use of land when implementing land management policies.”[1]

Ownership relates to the possession of rights in land; value normally relates to market value; use relates to the rights to use and profit from the land.[2] Under land tenure or ownership, there are so many activities to be conducted and there should also be a sub institution which can conduct these activities. These activities are formally titling land, transferring land by agreements (buying, selling, leasing), transferring land by social events (death, birth, marriage, divorce, and exclusion and inclusion among the managing group, forming new interests or properties, determining boundaries etc. Even for titling there are detail activities that need to be conducted. Sub-processes include legal identification, adjudication, demarcation, surveying, and registration. It may also require the establishment of geodetic control and the provision of base maps, including rectified aerial photomaps or orthophoto maps, and in all activities the engagement of the community is essential and involves awareness programs this is because the involvement of the community is crucial to get the real information and the participation insures transparency and accountability. This shows that land administration have so many sophisticated and detail activities which needs to have an implementing institution.

Therefore, land administration is all about the rights, restrictions and responsibilities of the land user, the use of the land and the value of it. In the modern sense it also encompasses the development of the land. In line with all this four functions of land administration there is information management system to which information is analyzed and distributed to land users, policy makers and other interested groups.

Land management, on the other hand, is the process of using land by citizens for their maximum benefit within the prescribed policy and legislative framework set down by the government to ensure that land resources are used in an orderly and sustainable fashion and in ways that the environment is protected.

Ethiopian rangelands, constituting 60% of the land mass and inhabited by approximately 12 million pastoralists (CSA, 2013), support vast amount of livestock and wildlife resources that contribute significantly to the livelihood of pastoralists and the national economy. Approximately 40% of cattle, 75% of goats, 25% of sheep, 20% of equines and 100% of camels of the country are reared by pastoralists (Yacob, 2000). The total direct economic contribution of pastoralism to the Ethiopian economy via milk, meat, skin and hides production is estimated at US$ 1.53 billion per year, accounting for about 6% of the agricultural GDP (Berhanu and Feyera, 2009).[3]

2. Significance of the term paper

The term paper is important by identifying the issues that related with governing the commons that are found especially with in the territory of Borena area. It shows the customary land management system and land administration. It is also crucial to know how the customary by laws are effective. It is important for reaserchers, students and the government who needs to know about the communal land management system of Borena. The recommendation will have pivotal role for the government to understand the meanses to alleviate the problems attached with the topic at hand and to take practical and legal solutions.

3. Objectives of the term paper

The objectives of the term paper are as follows:-

- To assessse the indigenous common property grazing land management;
- To show the effectiveness of village by laws in sustainable management of grazing lands;
- The options of cirtifying grazing land holdings in Borena area.
- To scrutinize the effect of population growth in natural resource management; and
- To recommend on the problems that are found in the Borena grazing land management.

4. Methodology of the term paper

The methods used for the purpose of this term paper are generally relied on primary and secondary data. Specifically it uses laws, reflection of previous work experience and experience sharing of the writer. In the case of Secondary data, relevant official reports, legal documents and research papers were used in the study. They were also gathered from various published journals, reports, books, project reports and related materials

5. Scope of the term paper

The scope of the term paper is limited on the grazing land management and administration of Borena area., how the village by laws are effective, the impact of population growth on the grazing land management, the options of certifying borena area grazing land holdings, and on the problems that are fiound in the management of Borena grazing land.

6. Limitation of the term paper

Limitations like lack of written materials have faced the writter in the preparation of this term paper. Besides, since the writter is land lawyer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural resource, he was devoted his time to his expertise work and as a result, he has faced shortage of time to prepare the term paper.

7. General Overview of the study area

The regional state of Oromia comprises 13 administrative zones, including the Borena Zone, which is located at the southern edge of Ethiopia bordering Somalia and Kenya ((between 3°36 – 6°38’North latitude and 3°43’- 39°30’ East longitude[4] ). The Borena Zone is made up of 13 district Weredas, divided between two agro-ecological zones – the semi-arid lowlands to the south and the more humid lands at higher altitudes to the north.[5] The main annual rainfall across the district varies from 500 and 700 mm, with an overall average of 648 mm. Surface evaporation is high. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures vary from 25.26 to 28.79 and 14.19 to 18.11 degree Celsius respectively.[6] The Borena Zone is inhabited by different ethnic groups, including Oromo, Somali, Gedeo, Burji, Konso, Amhara, Worradube, and Bonta. The most significant inhabitants (in terms of number) belongs to the various Oromo and Somali clans. Among the Oromo clans, the Borena and Gabra reside mainly in the semi-arid lowlands, while the Guji and Arsi Oromo clans are settled in humid lands at higher altitude. The Borana Oromo are numerically the dominant ethnic group inhabiting the Borana lowlands. The lowlands are made up of six districts (Liban, Arero, Yaballo, Taltalle, Dirre and Moyale), and extend across the border into northern Kenya.

Yabello is the capital town of the Borana zone and lies 570 km south of Addis Ababa. The zone covers 48,360 km2 of which 75% consists of lowland, the zone frequently is exposed to droughts. The zone consists of eight districts covering 275 “Gendas” (the lowest administrative unit). There are 19 urban centers, of which 10 have town administration. The zone is inhabited by almost 1 million people.[7]

The land is largely covered with light vegetation of predominantly pod-yielding Acacia species of Low forage values. The ecological conditions favor pastoralism more than farming. One researcher has pointed out in his one day presentation, only 5 % of the Borena area could be used for farming the rest area is not suitable for agriculture. So pastoralism is could be said the major optional economic activity for the area.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1. Location map of the study areas

Source: Martins (2004), as quoted in Indigenous systems of conflict resolution in Oromia, Ethiopia Desalegn Chemeda Edossa, Mukand Singh Babel, Ashim Das Gupta and Seleshi Bekele Awulachew

8. Indigenous systems of conflict resolution in Oromia

Natural resources-based conflicts are part of the fabric of local communities as individuals compete for scarce resources: social groups perceive themselves as having incompatible interests. Those who depend on a particular resource, but are unable to participate in planning or monitoring its use are marginalized. Conflicts also arise when local traditional practices are no longer viewed as legitimate or consistent with national policies, or when entities external to a community are able to pursue their interests, while ignoring the needs and requirements of local people. In the conflicts that ensue, often between parties of very uneven power, it is not only the environment that suffers but also the whole society.[8] Conflicts prevailing in the basin take two forms: (a) conflicts within the local community over the use of natural resources and (b) conflicts between the local community and the governmental and/or nongovernmental organizations due to the expansion of development projects on grazing lands previously held by pastoralist communities. Agricultural and tourism development within the basin has taken place without due consideration for the needs of the local community. This has caused shrinking of the grazing lands of the local pastoralist community and limited access to water resources, which in turn results in competition among the users thereby leading to conflicts. The most common inter-ethnic conflicts are between the Kerreyu and Ittu Oromo communities and the Afar and Issa communities.

Traditionally the area is endemic to conflicts between rival pastoral groups over resources. During the 1990s, the frequency and magnitude of conflicts has increased. For instance, in 2000, three major conflicts occurred between the major pastoral groups (Borena versus Garri, Merehan versus Digodi, Digodi versus Borena). These conflicts in combination with severe drought resulted in the death of hundreds of people and dislocations.[9]

There are serious tensions and sporadic violence between Garri returnees from Kenya, who currently claim to be a Somali clan, and the Borena.[10] Groups that are either allied to or have close associations with the Borena include members of other Oromo groups and the Konso who have settled in the Borena lowlands. Conflicts, although not unknown, tend to be relatively minor and rapidly resolved through traditional conflict resolution mechanisms.

According to a UNDP report, while Borana and Liban zones in Ethiopia are prone to drought, adjacent areas in neighboring Kenya and Somalia are even more likely to suffer from water scarcity.[11] During the times of complete failure of rainy seasons in northern Kenya and Southwest Somalia, there are often apparent influxes of pastoralists from those countries into Ethiopia searching for water and pasture. These situations lead to conditions where local people and "guests", often related by trans-border kinship and sharing common languages and cultures, have to compete for the use of the few perennial water resources. Similarly, Watson (2001)[12] provides a thorough account of conflicts between Somali groups and the Borena over the use of natural resources.

It is reported that in both the Awash River Basin and Borana areas elders in the community form a dominant component of the customary mechanisms of conflict management (Desalegn et al., 2004; Watson, 2001; Dejene, 2004).[13] This is directly related to the socio-political functions of Gadaa system, a system of an age grade classes that succeed each other every eight years in assuming economic, political and social responsibilities. A complete Gadaa cycle consists of five age-grades. The authority held by the elders is derived from their position in the Gadaa system. According to Gadaa, those people who have entered the Luba grade (individuals in the expected age range of 40-48) are considered to be elders. Therefore, the Luba s (elders) settle disputes among groups and individuals and apply the laws dealing with the distribution of resources, criminal fines and punishment, protection of property, theft, etc. Following Luba, men automatically retire from Gadaa and move into an advisory role known as Yuba. By then they receive a great deal of respect, as wise experienced authorities and repositories of law, but their decisions are no longer final as they had been. They turn the bulk of their attention to private family businesses or religious activities while their sons enter Gadaa, the public service.

Apart from their political significance, the Gadaa leaders play important roles in natural resources management. While the rules and regulations laid down by the Gadaa tradition must be respected by all councils of elders, any problem regarding resources use which could not be solved by these elders would be handled by the higher Gadaa leaders. Watson (2001[14] ) describes the role of abbaa Gadaa in natural resources conflict resolution as follows: The abbaa Gadaa is seen as the figurehead of the whole of Boran, and is often described as the President. As well as performing rituals, matters are referred to him and his council when a decision cannot be reached at a lower level. When conflict breaks out between ollas (the smallest unit of settlement consisting of 30 to 100 warraas households) or araddaas (small group of ollaas, usually two or three only, who may cooperate together on their grazing pattern), or maddaas (area surrounding one water source), then the abbaa Gadaa will rule on the case. If there is conflict between ethnic groups, then he will be called in to help make peace. As the abbaa Gadaa is responsible for dealing with matters of concern to the Boran, and as matters of concern are often related to access to the resources (water, land, and forests), the abbaa Gadaa is the highest level of institution of natural resources management in Borana.[15]

Bassi (2003) states that the Borena political/judicial/governance system has never received any formal recognition from modern Ethiopia.[16] But this trend now has been changing. For example the draft rural land administration proclamation has a provision that recognizes the traditional resource management and dispute settlement systems. Under the draft proclamation article 37 it enshrined as [illustration not visible in this excerpt] (customary) [illustration not visible in this excerpt] [illustration not visible in this excerpt][17]

Tache and Irwin (2003)[18] further argue that the KA officials, youngest community members, alien to the indigenous system and inexperienced in rangeland management, are appointed and given powers of decision making at the local level. Today, the KA officials are linked to the territorial administration of the rangelands. They operate against the advice of the elders, who are delegated clan representatives and responsible for a more flexible organization of the rangelands. This has caused conflicts between generations and disagreements within and among the communities.


[1] Land Administration for Sustainable Development, Ian Williamson, Stig Enemark, Jude Wallace, Abbas Rajabifard, ESRI PRESS ACADEMIC REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA

[2] LAND ADMINISTRATION IN THE UNECE REGION, Development trends and main principles, UNITED NATIONS, New York and Geneva, 2005

[3] LAND ADMINSITRATION TO NURTURE DEVELOPMENT (LAND) PROJECT, Securing Pastoralists Land Use Rights in Oromia National Regional State, By Solomon Bekure, Abebe Mulatu, Alehegne Dagnew and Dejene Negassa, 2015

[4] IVM Institute for Environmental Studies, Report on general characteristics of the Borana zone, Ethiopia, R. Lasage, A. Seifu, M. Hoogland, A. de Vries, 2010

[5] Tache and Irwin, 2003 quoted in the indigenous systems of conflict Resolution in Oromia, Ethiopia, page 149

[6] Luseno 1998, quoted in indigenous systems of conflict Resolution in Oromia, Ethiopia, page 149

[7] CSA, 2008, quoted in IVM Institute for Environmental Studies, Report on general characteristics of the Borana zone, Ethiopia, R. Lasage, A. Seifu, M. Hoogland, A. de Vries, 2010

[8] Constantinos, 1999 as quoted in Indigenous systems of conflict resolution in Oromia, Ethiopia Desalegn Chemeda Edossa, Mukand Singh Babel, Ashim Das Gupta and Seleshi Bekele Awulachew

[9] Dejene and Abdurahman, 2002, quoted in supra note 8

[10] Tache and Irwin, 2003, quoted in in supra note 8

[11] Ahrens and Farah, 1996, quoted in supra note 8

[12] quoted in supra note 8

[13] quoted in supra note 8

[14] quoted in supra note 8

[15] supra note 8

[16] quoted in supra note 8

[17] [illustration not visible in this excerpt] [illustration not visible in this excerpt]/2008

[18] quoted in supra note 8

Excerpt out of 29 pages


Communal Land Management. Governing Commons and Natural Resources
Bahir Dar University  (Land Administration Institute)
Governing Commons and Natural Resource
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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625 KB
Borena, land management, communal land, governing
Quote paper
Abebaw Belay (Author), 2016, Communal Land Management. Governing Commons and Natural Resources, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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