Located in Eastern Africa, north of Kenya, Ethiopia is an ecologically diverse country that is home to nine ethnically based states and two self-governing administrations. The economy is largely based on agriculture, with over 80% of the population engaged in the production of crops and livestock. With a growing population of over 80 million people, Ethiopia is also the most populous landlocked country in the world. On average farm sizes are small, with more than 85% of farming households on less than 2 hectares.
Historically, land governance in Ethiopia has been marked by significant control by the state over the allocation and use of land, as well as different approaches to the distribution of rural land implemented under various regimes. This has led to a lack of access to land and to insecure land tenure for the rural poor, particularly peasants, pastoralists, women and others who depend on land and other natural resources for their livelihoods.
Land certification initiatives have been expanded to millions of households nationwide generally with positive results, though critics call for greater measures to enhance tenure security and stimulate greater economic investments at the local level.
Some of the main land-related issues in the country include: improving land tenure security for smallholder farmers, pastoralists and women; coordination and harmonization among different institutions involved in land governance; greater transparency related to land leases to foreign investors.