Access to officials hurting registration of community land

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Access to officials hurting registration of community land


title+deed
mwathane

Summary

  • Most community land is to be found on the Kenya Coast, the South Rift and Northern Kenya.
  • In parts of the North, it stretches for hundreds of kilometres.
  • For instance, community land swathes strand over 500 kilometers between Isiolo and Moyale.

Most community land is to be found on the Kenya Coast, the South Rift and Northern Kenya. In parts of the North, it stretches for hundreds of kilometres. For instance, community land swathes strand over 500 kilometers between Isiolo and Moyale. And over 600 between Garissa and Mandera, most of it unregistered.

While communities in these regions have a fairly good idea of the positions of their common boundaries, only specific mapping will help to capture and reflect them on Kenya’s cadastral maps. Only then can such land be registered against the respective communities as is provided under the 2016 Community Land Act.

And until communities in the various land zones have registered their land, compensation where such land has to be acquired for public projects in the development of transport infrastructure, energy production or construction of water dams, will remain a challenge.

Investor negotiations for the use of such land will remain problematic, since these have to be referred to the respective county governments and the National Land Commission, while the land is under the regular use of the occupying communities.

These, therefore, retain de facto sway over access to the land. The case for the urgent adjudication, mapping and registration of community land, to secure it for communities and unlock its development potential, is therefore compelling.

The Land Development and Governance Institute has had interesting experiences while working with communities in Isiolo and Marsabit on matters community land.

The lessons have good policy and implementation value.

First, the communities have not been well sensitised on what is required of them under the law. But they are eager to form the required governance committees and register land.

It was, however, obvious that the task of mapping and demarcating their perimeter boundaries, and resolving inter-community disputes, will be quite demanding and will call for reasonable technical and financial resources.

It also emerged that communities nearer urban centres face the dilemma of choosing between communal and individual tenure, having been exposed to the pull of urbanisation and the emerging land markets, from which they are making good money.

URGENT ATTENTION

But of pressing concern is the vast distances some communities have to ply to access land registries. For instance, there is no land registry in Marsabit.

The community land registrar who has to register communities in Marsabit, even those in the far-flung towns of Sololo or Moyale, is in Isiolo town.

For the communities, and also the government officers who have to oversee the election of community representatives, travelling more than 400 kilometres one way and back is limiting.

And a similar situation begs between the Garissa land registry and communities that have to be served.

This is one challenge that could grossly slow down the registration of community land that the government needs to accord urgent attention.

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