Historically, the Afar region of Ethiopia has been populated by pastoralist communities, but their migratory and herding patterns may be threatened by commercial interests or conflicts with other ethnic groups. This paper presents exploratory baseline findings from an impact evaluation of USAID’s ongoing Land Administration to Nurture Development (LAND, 2013–2018) project in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Drawing on survey and qualitative data, this paper provides a detailed description of the customary governance systems in the study area, as well as evaluating strengths and weakness of those systems to navigate pressures (both internal and external) on communities’ tenure security. In addition, the paper explores community member perceptions of specific outside actors that potentially threaten their tenure security, whether the government, private sector investors, and other ethnic groups. The paper also explores what tenure security means in practice for pastoral communities in terms of land access, documentation, reallocation, and conflict. Some of the results challenge recent findings about the scale and impact of threats on pastoral communities. Preliminary findings suggest lack of access to land, external threats, and weak community governance may be not as problematic as shown by other studies reliant on a smaller, less representative sample size.
Key Words: Pastoralism and Agro-pastoralism, Communal Land Tenure, Group Land Rights, Land Use Change, Conflict