Landlessness, Land Access Modalities and Poverty in Rural Areas of Oromia National Regional State, Ethiopia
Land is the most critical asset in rural Ethiopia. With ever-increasing number of population and sluggish rural transformation, the number of landless people has increased tremendously. There is a critical lack of comprehensive study on the extent of landlessness, its effects and coping mechanisms of the landless populations in the country. This paper explores landlessness, reasons for landlessness, its effects on the livelihood of the population; existing coping strategies and the relationships between landlessness and poverty in three selected woredas (districts) of Oromia National Regional State. Fieldwork for this study was conducted between September 2015 and February 2016. Interviews, focus group discussions and informal conversations were used to collect qualitative data, which were supplemented by results of numeric data which were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The findings showed that more than one-third of the rural farmers in Oromia were landless. Population growth was the most important reason for landlessness. Troubled livelihood, such as food insecurity, difficulty to send children to school, lack of land for erecting home on, lack of grazing land, and overall marginalization of the landless from taking part in rural development initiatives were among the effects of landlessness. In this paper, we argue that, in a context where a great
mass of the people directly depends on subsistence agriculture and there is
little industry to provide employment for a considerable part of the population, landlessness or near to landlessness is a critical problem that would have a far reaching implication, including political instability. It is hoped that the findings of this research will contribute to knowledge production and policy development on the governance of land and the landless population.
Keywords: Landlessness, land rent, sharecropping, Oromia National
Regional State, poverty