Mizan Law Review

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Unsustainable Land Use due to ‘Catching Up’ Investment Pursuits in Ethiopia: The Need for Planning, Zoning and other Regulations

Zbelo Haileslasie


Zoning and land use regulations accommodate and balance various interests which relate to urbanization, food security, enhanced livelihoods, industrialization and globalization, in the context of sustainable development. Unlike comparative practices in other countries, Ethiopia has no comprehensive and codified zoning law even though the zoning stage affects the subsequent stages. Ethiopia has not yet issued an integrated national land use policy. There is also a rush toward massive acquisition of land for investments and proliferation of industrial parks. This is clearly meant to catch up with the plans and aspirations under Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) I and II. This article examines the relevant laws and the rush toward land acquisitions and the haphazard decisions thereof vis-à-vis the need for sustainability through a multimodal and integrationist approach. There are constitutional issues with regard to decentralizing local development plans and land administration versus centralizing tendencies in land-investment administration and designation of industrial parks. It is argued that there are gaps in the three-tier stages of (i) Planning and Zoning, (ii) Acquisition and (iii) Performance Requirements, thereby necessitating reform towards the integrated and balanced implementation of these three stages. The political commitment for ‘catching up’ pursuits should not be at the expense of constitutional rights and issues of sustainability. There is thus the need for an informed decision-making process that accommodates multitude of interests.

Key terms

Land use · Zoning law · Expropriation · Sustainability · Peri-urbans · Industrial park
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