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close this book Measuring drought and drought impacts in Red Sea Province
close this folder 1. Introduction to Red Sea Province
View the document Physical Geography
View the document Precipitation
View the document Political organisation
View the document Infrastructure, economic activities, and employment
View the document Agriculture
View the document Pastoralism
View the document Drought-coping strategies
View the document Population and human geography
View the document Land Tenure
View the document Gender Relations in Beja society
View the document Overview of famine relief in Red Sea Province
View the document References
View the document Appendix 1.1.
View the document Appendix 1.2.

Land Tenure

Land is held by the maximal lineage, 'adaat. Two rights in land ate observed: a'amara and asl rights. A'amara fights are usufruct rights of land for pasture, agriculture, and other activities such as cutting wood and imply no ownership of the land. A payment, called gwadaab is made annually to the diwaab that possesses full ownership rights of the land being used. This payment, sometimes only nominal, may be in animals or grain.

Asl rights, in contrast, are full ownership rights. Individuals and families have the right to maintain possession over particular plots of land for as long as they use them. Their descendants have the right to use the same parcels. Only asl possessors have the tight to sink or repair wells or to cut trees.

Land use arrangements for agriculture such as sharecropping exist in Red Sea Province and the rules governing such arrangements are more complicated than those governing pastoral land use between a'amara and asl tenure holders. There are three levels of sharing in general: landowners, half sharers, and quarter sharers. These levels are called in Arabic saahib adh-dhimin (saahib al-hawaasha or saahib al-arch), saahib an-nuus, and saahib ar-ruba' respectively. The landowner in theory takes one-half of the products of the land and the half sharer takes the other half. In practice this can vary considerably. The half sharer is responsible for hiring of labour and the payment of labour in kind or, less commonly, in cash. A sharecropping system such as the one described can exist where land is "collectively" owned by the maximal lineage because the minimal lineages, diwaabs have established customary rights of usage over specific parcels of land. These rights are inheritable. Land may be let as well.

In the precolonial period rights to land in Red Sea Province were established by conquest and maintenance of those rights involved war. Insofar as the land ownership status quo before the British established their administration in the early part of this century can be considered traditional land ownership and violence accepted as a means of negotiation, we may say that land ownership has changed since the precolonial times. Traditional land rights in Eastern Region have changed as a result of policy decisions made by the colonial administration and the independent central government in recent times. In the Tokar Delta in the early part of this century land was given to individuals who could clear it of trees and scrub and cultivate it. Large tracts of land passed (peacefully) to local people who previously had no asl rights to the land and some land passed to outsiders. In the development of the Gash Delta beginning in the early 1920s, in contrast, land remained in the hands of the local people who themselves had seized it violently from others a century before.

The central government in Khartoum has legislated that all land belongs to the state. This has been contested in the Eastern Region. Further information on this subject may be found in the forthcoming graduate theses from the Red Sea Areas Programme of the Universities of Khartoum and Bergen.