Joint Land Certification Programmes and Women’s Empowerment

    1. Study Information


      This sections discusses the 2018 article by Mequanint B. Melesse, Adane Dabissa, and Erwin Bulte, “Joint Land Certification Programmes and Women’s Empowerment: Evidence from Ethiopia.”1

      This study tests the assumptions that allow causal inference to the extent possible by employing several approaches and quality indicators. The study combines data collected using survey and field experiment approaches, and uses propensity score matching to study the impact of the Ethiopian joint land registration and certification programme on women’s empowerment. Data are collected using surveys and a field experiment, enabling construction of complementary indices for empowerment.

      The study collected cross-sectional data in Amhara region, in the districts of Womberma, Bure, and Jabitehinan. Overall, 325 households were randomly sampled from five certified and seven uncertified kebeles (village clusters), of which 141 households had certificates. All households with titles were from certified kebeles, and all uncertified households were from uncertified kebeles. The survey contained different modules on household issues, including general information, marriage history, household assets, and modules on the different empowerment indicators. Men and women were interviewed separately. Data on community conditions were also collected.

    2. Questions posed
      • What are the effects of the Ethiopian joint land certification programme on women’s empowerment within the household?
    3. Description of intervention

      The study focuses on the Amhara region and on first-level certification vs. non-certified households.

    4. Context of findings

      The Amhara region started the joint land certification programme in 2004 (Bezabih et al., 2016), emphasising equity and joint ownership. The programme was implemented in a decentralised, broad-based, high-speed and participatory approach, allowing the programme to adapt to local conditions (Deininger et al., 2008). The programme costs were low and affordable, and has been regarded as wealth neutral since poor households had the same probabilities of receiving land certificates as richer households (Deininger et al., 2008).

    5. Key findings

      The main result was that joint land certification empowers women, but not equally across all dimensions. Specifically, the study found significant differences between certified and uncertified women in participation in household decisions, community participation, knowledge of land rights and legal provisions, the level of tenure security and willingness to protect rights, as well as in the measure of institutional inclusion. In contrast, there were only modest effects on indicators of physical mobility and autonomy.

    1. Melesse, Mequanint B., Dabissa, Adane & Bulte, Erwin, (2018) Joint Land Certification Programmes and Women’s Empowerment: Evidence from Ethiopia, The Journal of Development Studies, 54:10, 1756-1774, DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2017.1327662