Eritrea: A Nation in Crisis: Land Expropriation

The land proclamation that the government had issued in 1994 puts land under government ownership and introduces a shift of land ownership from the “desa” tenure system to permanent private ownership to promote sustainable land use and conservation and protection of land, as it is believed that long time or permanent land ownership encourages individuals to make long term investment on the land including conservation. But this land proclamation has never been implemented, only provided the cover the government wanted to expropriate land from the people. Land expropriation by the government has been in practice ever since the PFDJ came in power. The government selectively uses the article that stipulates that land is under government ownership to expropriate land for raising government income, especially for the very much needed hard currency through the sale of land to residential and investment purpose to Eritreans living abroad and through its export-oriented farms, and for agricultural and residential purposes to benefit its loyal military officers and other officials while denying the local populations their right for land and associated economic benefits.