Columnists

Land sector progress under the new laws

land

Summary

  • Under the Community Land Act, it’s expected that Community Land Management Committees will run administer community land.
  • In enhancing tenure security, registration of title has since been expedited with the number of title deeds produced since Independence nearly doubled from 5.6 million to about 10.6 million, with more than five million of these issued from 2013.
  • It’s hoped that transparency and efficiency in land administration will improve through efforts to establish a comprehensive national land information management system and a complementary public land information management system.

Consensus on Chapter 5 of Kenya’s Constitution on land and environment wasn’t easy to obtain. Harmonising inputs from stakeholders, many of whom were determined to ring-fence their self-serving, in some cases malevolent views called for careful navigation. Little wonder that the final debate in Parliament on the chapter was acrimonious.

Ultimately, the chapter influenced the opinions of many Kenyans who voted in the 2010 referendum.

So, how has implementation proceeded over the last 10 years? Implementation cuts across the tenure of President Mwai Kibaki and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Some of the achievements made since include collapsing previous land laws, which were a problem to many, into just a few. These include the substantive Land and Community Land Acts. Registration of all interests in land is now done under the Land Registration Act, which repealed previous registration laws.

The Environment and Land Court Act, an entirely new law, provided the framework for the new Environment and Land Courts, introduced to expedite hearings. Stakeholders pushed for the establishment of such special courts for a long time.

The National Land Commission Act was enacted to provide a framework for the recruitment of commissioners and officials of the agency and its operations. The Physical and Land Use Planning Act was also enacted to guide national, regional and county planning and land use, repealing the 1996 Physical Planning Act.

Consequently, the sector is now driven by an institutional framework consisting of the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, the land commission and county governments.

Under the Community Land Act, it’s expected that Community Land Management Committees will run administer community land.

In enhancing tenure security, registration of title has since been expedited with the number of title deeds produced since Independence nearly doubled from 5.6 million to about 10.6 million, with more than five million of these issued from 2013.

It’s hoped that transparency and efficiency in land administration will improve through efforts to establish a comprehensive national land information management system and a complementary public land information management system.

There had been justifiable concerns, and even protests, by Kenya’s business community and land professionals over the laborious and slow manual systems.

A national spatial plan and a national land use policy have been developed over this period and they are expected to guide and enhance spatial and land use planning.

Measures by the NLC to establish a national inventory of public land eyeing holistic and efficient management of public land, and the establishment of a land research unit also make the list of gains. The Commission also reviewed grants to some irregularly allocated land, and launched hearings into historical land injustices.

Nonetheless, challenges and gaps exist, which we can discuss later.