African people looking on map on savannah
A group reviews land parcel boundaries in the Ethiopia, where land titles have recently been introduced through REILA.

Land registration in Ethiopia

Responsible land management improves livelihoods and tenure security for rural communities in Ethiopia

NIRAS has assisted the Ethiopian government with developing methods for rural land registration through “The Responsible and Innovative Land Administration in Ethiopia project” (REILA). The project has resulted in efficient and gender equal land registration, and its methods have been officially adopted by the Ethiopian government as the formal procedure for registering rural land throughout the entire country.

In rural Ethiopia land is the most important asset. It serves as the primary source of food and livelihood and carries with it cultural identity and political power. Agriculture accounts for 45% of GDP and over 80% of total employment.

However, much land in rural Ethiopia remains undesignated and underdeveloped. Thus, continued agriculture-based growth is a challenge as the lack of land tenure security makes these areas too risky for investment.

In response to these issues, REILA has developed sustainable land registration practices that increase the security of farmers to the land they hold, resulting in lower risk for investments that improve productivity and livelihoods of rural communities.

Official government method for registering land

REILA’s implementation has been received so well that the government of Ethiopia has formally adopted REILA’s method as the official government procedure for registering rural land throughout the entire country – over 50 million parcels of land in total.

Gender equality in land distribution

Moreover, of the 400,000 parcels registered to date, REILA has ensured that women received an equal share of land rights.

The registration of land represents a massive distribution of wealth. Compared to men, women’s land rights result in better agricultural production, less domestic violence and a larger share of household resources going to family welfare. Furthermore, women with land rights are more capable of exiting violent relationships.

REILA has changed the mind-set of decision makers in the land administration and assisted to develop a harmonized system to register all the land in Ethiopia

The State Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture

Achieving its goals

NIRAS has managed the five-year project, provided technical assistance to the Ethiopian government, and worked together with the Ministry of Agriculture Land Use Directorate, Ethiopian Mapping Agency, and Amara and Beninshangul-Gumuz regional officials to achieve the following:


  1. Developing the land registration methods officially used by the government
  2. Developing the state’s vocational education programme on rural land administration (100 graduates to date)
  3. Capacity building at the national and local levels
  4. Developing the IT system and strategy (NRLAIS) to sustain implementation
  5. Geodetic positioning reference network to support all mapping and ground surveys.

A midterm evaluation concluded, “During the interviews the beneficiary organizations and other stakeholders, without an exception, expressed their satisfaction with the work and results of REILA.”