Ethiopian Commons survives fifth colonial century

The Menz Guassa Community Conservation Area
The Menz Guassa Community Conservation Area nourishes local agriculture

2016 marks 500 years since the arrival of Portugese colonists in Ethiopia. Due to its continued resistance of colonisation the Ethiopian Commons remains intact providing communal use and preservation of valuable grazing lands and ecosystem services.

The country has never been colonized despite ongoing invasions by Turkey, Portugal, Britain and Italy, an experience that has thrown the country into a harsh struggle for survival.

The 11,000 hectare Community Conservation Area in Menz-Guassa provides a model for restoring Ethiopia’s agricultural basis and protecting the area from famine and drought largely caused by the disruptions of war.

The Resilience Of An Indigenous Ethiopian Commons

Ethiopia is home to one of the oldest, most effective conservation management systems in sub-Saharan Africa, the Menz-Guassa Community Conservation Area, an 11,100-hectare region. The history of the indigenous land tenure system reveals a great deal about how people in Menz have been able to regularly use, but also preserve, valuable grazing lands and ecosystem services for more than 400 years.


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