The Impact of Urban Sprawl on the Livelihood of Fringe Farmers in Mekelle, Ethiopia

Zemenfes Gebregziabher


The city of Mekelle is experiencing high population growth and haphazard settlement expansion resulting in urban sprawl[1]. City authorities have responded with periodic expropriation of adjacent rural land to extend the urban limits and, effectively, provide more land for development. Between 2005 and 2008, about 9883 farmer households were expropriated from their farms as a result of the rapid expansion of the city. Due to the poor administration of the acquisition and the follow-up utilization of the acquired land, displaced farmers are not only losing their livelihood but the compensation due is delayed and insufficient to prepare them for a decent shift in life. Again, the absence of a scientific method of valuation leads to dissatisfaction on the part of many affected farmers. This paper looks at the evolving picture of unfair displacement of families whose main source of livelihood is subsistence agriculture from their small land holdings resulting in complete deprivation and destitution. Material for putting together this paper came from an ongoing doctoral research study[2]. Primary data was obtained from a survey of 250 expropriated farmers. Findings show that the city is, indeed, sprawling into the nearby rural communities due to the uncontrolled and unauthorized acquisition and occupation of farmlands; a phenomenon that clearly has its roots in the poor land administration practices of Mekelle City Administration. The paper is structured into four parts: part one deals with the introduction covering the background, problem and objective; part two relates to review of literature and Ethiopian laws pertaining to the subject; part three covers the methodology adopted in writing the paper; part four delves into the findings; and part five is conclusion.

Keywords: sprawl, expropriation, compensation, livelihood

[1] Refers to unplanned and often inefficient use of urban land

[2] ‘Urban Sprawl in Mekelle (Ethiopia): Causes, Consequences and Management Strategies.’ By the same author.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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