There is an underlying tension in the land rights movement that is rarely addressed head on, which is the perception that securing women’s land rights threatens community land rights. Community land rights are typically held by indigenous people, small-scale and subsistence farmers, pastoralists, herders and many other groups who are directly dependent on land for their livelihoods but whose land tenure is often the most precarious.
The Rangelands Initiative of the International Land Coalition (ILC) is drawing attention to rangelands and drylands at the highest levels, in order to find solutions to the challenges faced by local populations that live and work there, and to encourage appropriate investment including in securing land rights and good governance, building resilience to drought and other shocks or stresses, and increasing rangeland productivity.
For hundreds of years, pastoralists in Ethiopia’s lowlands have relied on strong customary land tenure systems to survive. Historically, legislation has failed to clearly define communal rights to rangelands, and the specific roles and responsibilities for both communities and local government to administer and manage these resources. This legislative deficiency prevented pastoral communities from fully exercising their constitutional rights to land (Ethiopia’s Constitution broadly recognizes pastoral communities’ right to access land and prevents their involuntary displacement).