Land use planning is a new practice in Eritrea. It was introduced with the promulgation of the new land law and the establishment of the Department of Land after the Eritrean independence. The detailed policies, rules, regulations and guidelines for implementation of the land proclamation are not yet worked out. Similarly, the institutions responsible for the implementation are not well developed in their material and manpower. To this end, indigenous knowledge and practices on land use in rural areas have not properly been studied and integrated into the new process. Ethnopedology has proven to be of great help in development activities, especially in rural areas where farmers have an in depth knowledge of their land and where scientific investigation of land resources became difficult or impossible. As over time communities in the Eritrean highlands have managed their land, they have developed methods and institutions of land management. These are valuable resources, which have to be exploited properly. The study describes the local land classification in two Eritrean highland villages and explores methods of using it as a tool for participatory land use planning in natural resource management. It pays particular attention to investigating local soil knowledge, the logic behind the farmers' soil categorization and their traditional institutions using participatory methods. The main finding of this investigation is that farmers have strong local institutions at village level and they classify their land based on the problems and potentials of their environment. The study has also shown that local soil knowledge in the study area can be used as a gateway to participation, as a means for data collection and as a means of communication between local communities and the planning experts during land use planning. The study concludes that ethnopedology in the study area is well adapted to the given environment and has a practical use as a tool for village-level participatory land use planning. It recommends that development agents in the area use this knowledge for planning and implementation of different activities, especially in natural resource management. The study proposes a rough structural outline of basic stages in the planning process based on the outcome of the investigation.
Dissertation (Magister Institutionis Agrariae)--University of Pretoria, 2006.