The Land Issue in Eritrea’s Reconstruction & Development


Rock, June. 2000. “The Land Issue in Eritrea’s Reconstruction & Development.” Review of African Political Economy 27 (84): 221–34.

Author: June Rock


At the end of the 30 year‐long liberation struggle against Ethiopian overrule, Eritrea was faced with the enormous tasks of political and economic reconstruction, the repair of the country's physical infrastructure, and the need to rebuild and rehabilitate the devastated agricultural sector. These tasks coincided with those of the demobilisation of fighters and the repatriation and reintegration of some 600,000 refugees that had fled to the Sudan during the struggle. High on the agenda of Eritrea's decision‐makers immediately after Independence, was the issue of land. A speedy resolution of the land issue was seen as integral to the government's overall policies for post‐war recovery and reconstruction. This resulted in the introduction, in 1994, of the Eritrea Land Proclamation, which aimed to radically transform the country's tenure systems. Some six years later, with the exception of one or two small pilot projects in the immediate environs of the capital, Asmara, the Proclamation has still to be implemented. This article examines some of the specific provisions of the Land Proclamation in order to explore what would need to be done to initiate it on the ground. It is argued that, while the principles of the Land Proclamation are well intentioned, its implementation would be too complex and costly, and that there are alternative lessons to be learned from the EPLF's own, earlier land reforms of the mid‐1970s and 1980s.

Topics: DDR, Development, Economies, Land Tenure, Governance, Households, Livelihoods, Political Economies, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Eritrea

Year: 2000

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