Ethiopia has implemented one of the world’s most cost-effective systems to document land holdings, the land certification system. After more than 15 years since its launch, questions have been raised regarding its functionality. Specifically, there are concerns about the process of updating land certificates, thus ensuring the certificates and the registry are up-to-date. This exploratory evaluation seeks to provide formative evidence regarding this question, and, if warranted, give direction as to where additional research is needed. We find that in some areas, the mechanisms for updating land certificates are functional and in other areas not. Based upon these findings, we suggest four areas for future research, namely: (1) assessing the extent of non-functionality on a broader scale, (2) investigating the causes of non-functionality and viable options for addressing the cases thereof, (3) how policy can best address uninheritable land due to its small size, and (4) evaluating the viability of the future of rural livelihoods and what services ought to be put in place to enable a transition that provides decent livelihood alternatives.
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