Sunday, October 09, 2016

The commons of Ethiopia

An interesting and thought provoking article on the Countercurrent website by Zelealem Tefera Ashenafi, country representative of the Frankfurt Zoological Society in Ethiopia, describes one of the oldest, most effective conservation management systems in sub-Saharan Africa, the Menz-Guassa Community Conservation Area, an 11,100-hectare region that is home to a rich endowment of grasslands, plants and rare animals such as the Ethiopian wolf, gelada and Abyssinian hare. The history of the indigenous land tenure system known as Atsme Irist reveals a great deal about how people in Menz have been able to regularly use, but also preserve, valuable grazing lands and ecosystem services for more than 400 years.

The varied structures of indigenous land tenure systems in Ethiopia evolved through a complex set of processes, but one of the most notable examples is Atsme Irist. In the Ethiopian district of Menz, which includes the Guassa area, the Atsme Irist system for centuries gave the Menz people a right to claim a share of land held in common.

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