Journal of
Development and Agricultural Economics

  • Abbreviation: J. Dev. Agric. Econ.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9774
  • DOI: 10.5897/JDAE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 553

Full Length Research Paper

Dismantling of common property, land use and pastoral livelihoods in eastern Ethiopia

Fekadu Beyene
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Haramaya University, P. O. Box 161, Haramaya, Ethiopia.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 06 August 2011
  •  Published: 26 September 2011


This paper examines the emerging challenges to common property resource management in pastoral areas of Ethiopia and a shift in livelihood strategies. Using the institutional analysis and development framework and data from three administrative districts in eastern Ethiopia, results show that traditional management of the rangeland that permits efficient allocation of resources is no longer practiced due to demographic shift and rainfall variability that undermine the regeneration capacity of grazing resources. Institutions governing communal grazing do not impose duties on members, but simply exclude outsiders who do not belong to a clan. Instead, the allocation of communal land for private use and the expansion of private cisterns as livestock watering points have caused increased shrinkage of communal land. Such a shift in land use has altered pastoral livelihoods where many were engaged in commercialization of livestock production, contractual grazing, better integrated into the formal markets had increased access to new technologies. An important lesson from this study, is that the interaction of endogenous and exogenous factors have contributed to the dismantling of common property and created a gradual shift in livelihoods that put a threat to the survival of the grazing commons. Internal sources of change are also important, contrary to the claim in the literature that state policies are the dominant ones.


Key words: Pastoral commons, land use, property rights, livelihoods.