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Habtemicael WELDEGIORGIS, Eritrea
In Eritrea the economy is on the main agrarian and land is the basic resource for its overall
development. Land tenure in Eritrea, as in many other African countries, was mainly
communal; kinship (risti) or village owned (diesa or shehena). There was also the gulti tenure
or land given by royal power. The fourth type of land tenure was the demoniale or state
ownership introduced during the Italian rule. The first two communal types of land tenure had
merits in maintaining relative equity within the kinship and village. Despite the stated merits,
communal ownership was to a great extent a cause for fragmentation of land, soil erosion,
over grazing, over harvesting of forests, in short gross mismanagement of land, which
hindered agricultural development and long term investment in land.
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