CS Demistifies the Kenya’s Community Land Act

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By BONIFACE MULU

Act was passed into law in September 2016

The general objective of the Kenya’s community land Act which was passed into law in September 2016 is to provide for the recognition, protection and registration of the community land rights, management and administration of the community land and to provide for the role of the county governments in relation to the unregistered community land.

The Lands and Physical Planning Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney further said that the regulations to implement the Act were formulated in November 2017 and approved by the parliament in June 2018. “The delay in the implantation of this crucial Act has occasioned a lot of anxiety. Communities have raised concerns about this slag.

Reports we have in the ministry indicate that they are ready to register their land,” the CS added. The minister made the remarks in a speech read for her by the ministry’s Land Adjudication and Settlement Deputy Director, Dr. Eustace Kithumbu during a consultative meeting on the implementation of the community land Act, 2016 in Kitui County organised at the Kitui Agricultural Training Centre by the Lands and Physical Planning Ministry in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the European Union on Monday, December 9, 2019. She had been represented by Kithumbu as the chief guest at the function.

Cs Karoney said that the ministry in consultation with the National Land Commission and the county governments has commenced the implementation programme.

“The programme is being implemented with the support of the UN FAO through the European Union. It began in July this year,” she said. The implementation process is spearheaded by the Working Group on Implementation of Community Land Act, 2016 (WGICLA). So far, we have sensitised the ministry’s officers, relevant parliamentary committees, civil society organisations and professional bodies, she said.

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The minister said they have put in place the governance structures, personnel, strategies and financial resources needed to implement the law. And she added that a national programme for civic education and awareness has been developed as required by the law to enable communities prepare for registration. “We have divided the counties into five clusters,” Karoney said.

“The first two clusters will be sensitized this month and the remaining three will be done in January. We expect these civic education and awareness campaigns to end in early February 2019,” the minister said.

A copy of our full schedule has been circulated to you, she added. “The Act, ladies and gentlemen, recognizes the importance of cooperation between stakeholders in its implementation.

It also calls for consultations and coordination to be applied by the different actors charged with different roles,” Karoney said. These include the national government, the NLC, the county governments and communities, she added.

She said the Act has also provided a framework for resolving disputes through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The minister said the parliament’s role in the implementation process is crucial to ensure that the Act is actualised.

“We have identified provisions of the act which require amendments with approval of parliament, but we do not want to jump to the gun. I appeal to you to collaborate with in the roll-out of the implementation process,” Karoney said.

The minister said the accountability starts with putting knowledge and tools in the hands of the communities. The Act requires that public awareness be conducted to enable the communities to understand their rights, Karoney said.

“We seek your support in identifying the most effective strategies to execute successful public awareness campaigns,” she added. Land, as we know, is our communities’ most important resource. There is a recognised link between secure land rights and a country’s growth and investment climate, the minister said.

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She added that the security of tenure is also important for social inclusion particularly for historically disadvantaged communities such as the pastoralists whose lands have never been registered, the minister added.

Karoney said that the communities will have direct control over natural resources and a better bargaining position with investors. She said the political goodwill is key to the implementation process that will facilitate the registration of the community land.

“In addition, the process necessitates supplementary budgetary allocation and we implore you to us in this initiative,” Karoney said. “The focus of this campaign, ladies and gentlemen, is to entrench proactivity through frank discussions and genuine contributions on solutions.

We strive to sensitise Kenyans to appreciate and uphold the rule of law, develop good value systems, accept each other and above all embrace patriotism,” the minister said.

She added that the active participation by individual Kenyans in the fight against corruption is brought to the fore as the missing ingredients for the war to be won.

The need to seriously focus on the next most viable option in the fight as opposed to curative, to which substantial resources have previously been invested through investigations and prosecutions, Karoney added.

She said the curative measures are lengthy and very expensive low in gains, leading to the perception that the war cannot be won. “There is need to reverse this for the people to believe and trust in the fight and reap the full benefits of a corruption-free Kenya,” the minister said.

We have embarked on the process of digitising land records. Many court cases take too long because of missing files. We are developing a National Land Information Management System (NLIMS) to enhance transparency in land administration and management, the minister said.

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“This one-stop shop will improve access to crucial land information. We hope to initiate online land transactions in the spirit of improving ease of doing business,” she said.

We proposed amendments, but the Parliamentary Committee on Delegated Legislations reported that there is need for broad-based public participation, she said. “I want to implore you to support us in this initiative. Digitisation is a way to go,” the minister added.

The minister said the county governments in consultation with the communities should expedite the process of submitting inventory of the unregistered community land within their jurisdiction.

“This workshop offers a platform for the development of a clear roadmap and cooperation framework that will set us on a path towards our common goal of securing community lands.

I look forward to fruitful deliberations in this workshop. Thank you,” the minister said. The director addressed the occasion after he read the minister’s speech. Kithumbu said that since the Kenya’s independence in 1964, some 70 per cent of the country’s community lands have not been registered. “It is only 30 per cent of Kenya is registered,” he said.

Kithumbu said that the whole of the North Eastern Kenya region has not been touched. “That is where we are going to apply the community land Act fully,” the Lands and Physical Planning Ministry official said.

Kitui County Lands, Infrastructure and Urban Development Minister, Engineer Jacob Kakundi, had been represented at the function by an official from his office Joshua Nyamai Mutembei. Mutembei also addressed the occasion among others.

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