Examining the Link among Recent Land Use Policy, Food Security and Land Management

The purpose of this research project is to generate knowledge and contribute to the development of appropriate land use policy in the semi-arid pastoral and agropastoral systems.


Land use practices will have a significant effect on the management of rangeland and the sustainable use of natural resources in dryland areas. Much of the empirical work elsewhere indicates that the change in land use in pastoral and agropastoral areas has a strong link with the nature of land tenure in place and the influence of other policy related factors (Unruh, 1995; Lane, 1998; Muhereza and Otim, 2002; Mwangi, 2005; Abdulahi, 2007). But there is ambiguity on the factors that necessitate adoption of a particular land use mainly in pastoral inhabited drylands where the influence of the state and its land use policies are still believed to be minimal or are lacking (Gebreselassie, 2006). This increases the need to examine those factors that possibly contribute to land use change, the influence they will have on household food security and their effect on the sustainable use of natural resources in pastoral areas.

Examining the way land resources are used and managed does not only generate evidence on current land use practices and associated problems but also help examine the prospect of ensuring food security in the long-term. Being pessimistic with the emerging land use patterns in pastoral and agropastoral systems favoring crop farming, a number of studies recommend for the need to evaluate the effect of current land uses on food security and sustainable management of the pastoral drylands (Lane, 1998). This pessimism is rooted in the fact that farming serves as a coping strategy rather than adaptation measure to pursue permanent livelihood strategy (Haug, 2002). Such studies step into critics without examining the causes for a shift in land use in the semi-arid regions. This study asserts that challenges related to food security can be met if changes in land use ensure removal of constraints in rangeland management and support equitable distribution of gains from joint efforts among the vulnerable pastoral/agropastoral communities


The general objective of this project is to examine the link among land use practice, food security and rangeland management in selected pastoral/agropastoral districts in eastern Ethiopia.

The specific objectives are:

  1. To analyze how livelihood diversification and expansion of markets affect land use practice and food security. This is useful as diversification tends to reduce the pressure on land and undermine competition/conflict over scarce natural resources.
  2. To identify factors constraining rangeland resource management. This sub-objective is related to the institutional and policy limitations in natural resource management.
  3. To explore institutional options in promoting sustainable management of rangeland resources.


The project begins with the preliminary visits to the selected districts in order to have a general overview of land use change and food security. This will support the preparation of a checklist for discussion with key informants. Then, a general descriptive report will be produced which would lay the basis for the preparation of a standardized semi-structured questionnaire to be pre-tested and used for the extensive household survey. The questions included in it are required to achieve the first as well as the second objective for which an econometric model will be used to isolate herders’ perceptions on the factors constraining rangeland management. The third activity is undertaking the household survey using trained enumerators. Subsequently, data will be analyzed leading to a start up of report writing. The fourth main activity is presentation of preliminary findings at a stakeholders’ workshop with the purpose of sharing results and receiving feedback. This would improve the final report from which policy briefs will be extracted. It also plays a capacity building role as the presentation of the results provides information for regional decision-makers taking part in it. At the last stage, provision of training and preparation of posters reinforces the dissemination of findings.

Expected Results

This project will enhance the understanding of the successes and challenges in sustainable rangeland management and the extent to which customary institutions could fill the gap in the formal institutions in terms of facilitating sustainable land use. Workshops will help regional decision-makers and district experts responsible for implementing rangeland resource management gain insights on actions that need to be taken. Eventually, there will be a well-prepared research report providing the summary and detailed description of the findings as agreed upon by the funding agency and the researched pastoral/agropastoral groups.