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GENDER ASPECTS OF LAND ENTITLEMENT IN THE BLUE NILE WATERSHED, NORTHWESTERN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0305-06]
In rural Ethiopia land is often the only livelihood asset for rural households. Access to and control over the land is thus a significant way to succeed in households’ livelihoods. As a result, it has always attracted the attention of intellectuals, politicians and practitioners. It is almost two decades since the Ethiopian government started implementing rural land entitlement that is supposed to be “modern” and “better” as compared with previous approaches. Particularly, the government confidently states that rural households can ensure their livelihoods due to the current land entitlement policy. In this regard, there are two major views. On the one hand, some practitioners hold the view that the recent land entitlement paved ways for land owners to change the way they make use of their land. They also argue that the recent proclamation on land entitlement ensured women’s equality with men in controlling land and also helped them improve their livelihoods. On the other hand, another group of scholars formulated a great deal of criticism on the current land registration and entitlement policy. This group of scholars argue that, despite government’s intervention in rural land practices, peoples’ livelihoods were never improved. On both arguments there is no clear explanation about the impacts of the recent land entitlement policy on men and women in controlling land and other environmental resources. There is also a lack of understanding on whether or not the recent entitlement policy improved the livelihood of poor and female-headed households. By taking East Gojjam Zone, which is located in the Blue Nile Watershed, Amhara Regional State, as a case,the aim of this paper is to analyze policy interventions related to gender aspects of land entitlement, which is being implemented since a few years ago. It focuses on the gender dimension of emerging aspects of land entitlement: land measurement, the registration and certification process that has been taking place in the past few years. It also deals with perceptions of male- and female-headed households towards the process. To address these objectives, a combination of different methods such as in-depth and key informant interviews, focus group discussions, case studies and household surveys were used. Both quantitative and qualitative data were used for analysis. Findings of the study show that due to the new land policy, new land use patterns have emerged. After having received their land certificate, most female household heads prefer to rent their land in different forms.