The social dynamics of access to land, livelihoods and the rural youth in an era of rapid rural change: Evidence from Ethiopia

Tsegaye Moreda Shegro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In recent years, a great interest in the social dynamics of access to land and livelihoods across Africa, especially that of youth, has emerged in the context of increased competing demands for land and youth employment challenges. Research on land issues in Ethiopia tends to focus on documenting how small and fragmented landholdings have become or on how rural people adapt to these land constraints, often focusing on the application of other agricultural inputs. As a result, studies have rarely focused on the evolving dynamics of access to land. Based on fieldwork in Ethiopia, this paper explores whether and how land is accessed, especially by the rural youth, under the prevailing context of narrowing access to land and the implications of this for rural migration. The paper demonstrates that young people are less likely than their parents’ generation to be able to access land independently, suggesting generational patterns of differentiation around land access and livelihood trajectory. It demonstrates that currently there are very limited opportunities for the rural youth to gain access to land except through land inheritance and gifts from their parents. But even these long-standing land distribution practices appear unsustainable. As the prospect of gaining access to land has become more challenging, young people are increasingly engaging in labour migration to find work elsewhere. Employment opportunities are, however, limited and unevenly distributed. In light of this, key issues that policymakers should be concerned with include improving rural youth's access to farmland and employment opportunities. This point is important vis à vis the government's recent drive to facilitate the acquisition of large expanses of farmland in various areas of the country by large investors and local elites in the form of long-term leases to establish plantations, thus reducing the amount of land which the rural youth can potentially access.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106616
JournalLand Use Policy
Volume128
Issue number106616
Early online date2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The fieldwork for this paper was funded by The Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP) while the preparation of this manuscript was supported by funding received from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme grant to the RRUSHES-5 project (grant agreement No. 834006). I am very grateful to the two anonymous reviewers of this journal for their constructive comments and suggestions.

Funding Information:
The fieldwork for this paper was funded by The Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP) while the preparation of this manuscript was supported by funding received from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme grant to the RRUSHES-5 project (grant agreement No. 834006 ). I am very grateful to the two anonymous reviewers of this journal for their constructive comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

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