Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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ADDISWORK Tilahun Teklemariam, Hawassa University, Center for Policy and Development Research, Ethiopia
MOHAMED Salih Abdelrahim, Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Rotterdam University, The Hauge, The Netherlands
Logan COCHRANE, Carleton University, Global and International Studies Faculty of Public Affairs

According to the UN-Habitat report, ever-increasing population coupled with intensified rural-urban migration will result in 50% of Africa’s population inhabiting urban centers by 2030. Existing trends show that as urban centers become home to large segments of the population, their carrying capacity is exceeded, creating massive demand for urban land for housing and other urban infrastructural development. This increased demand for urban land tends to be met primarily by converting periurban agricultural land on the outskirts of existing centers. As a result, these periurban areas become tenure hot-spots. Ethiopia is no exception. According to the CSA 2008 report, Ethiopia’s urban population is projected to grow annually by 4.3% and is increasing by half a million every year. According to this preliminary population projection, by 2040 the populations of the major cities like Hawassa, Mekele, Adama and Bahir Dar are estimated to grow respectively by a factor of 6, 5 and 4. The intensity and scale of urban population growth places a great deal of pressure on the periurban zones, which are expected to pick up the slack. The paper investigates the distinct property rights issues, tenure related livelihood challenges and coping strategies of local periurban farmers in Addis Ababa and Hawassa. The study is based on a qualitative case study methodology, consisting of participatory observation and deep field immersion, interviews, focus group discussions and document analysis techniques. The study concludes that the expansion of urban development into periurban agricultural land and the resulting changes to the tenure system have caused intense tenure insecurity and livelihood challenges to the local farmers. The analysis suggests that the main strategies farmers employ to cope with the changing situation conflict with the formal laws of the country, which in most cases damages the farmers and raises issues of legal pluralism.