Estibel Debeb is a happy Ethiopian farmer. Now in his sixties he finally has a map and documents indicating the piece of land that belongs to him. “Now I can claim compensation from the state if the state decides to take back the land to use it for another purpose. Or if any of my neighbours tried to claim the land, I could prove where the borders are by showing them the official documents.”
In Ethiopia, the state owns all the land, but official registration guarantees that children can inherit their parents’ right to hold a plot of land. Registration of land rights is very important in rural areas. Not only does the land give people a place where to live but it also allows them to produce food and make a daily living and gives them access to decision-making in their communities. Registration offers security particularly to women, who now keep their rights to land upon divorce or death of the husband.
The project funded by Finland helped to register approximately 400 000 plots of land in 2011–2017. Three out of five plots were owned jointly by both spouses and one out of four plots was registered to a single mother. This system proved to be so effective that the Ethiopian State and other donors now use it. Finland has also contributed towards the improvement of national land management in Ethiopia, created a national information system for land registration and improved the training in the field.
Photo: Zerfu Hailu, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta