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Columnists

Reforms in land sector hold great promise

land ownership papers
Landowners show their ownership papers. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

It is precisely ten years since the passing of the Sessional No. 3 of 2009 National Land Policy. In the last ten years, we have experienced many legislative and institutional reforms proposed by the policy and enshrined in Chapter 5 of the Constitution.

Some of the changes included categorising land into either public, private or community, repealing of past land legislation and enactment of the new land laws. In the same reform period, new land administration institutions were established namely the National Land Commission in charge of all the public land in Kenya, and a dedicated court -the Environment and Lands Court - of the same status as the high court exclusively handling matters relating to land and environment.

County governments were given jurisdiction over cadastral surveying, physical planning, and holding in trust unregistered community land. In 2018, the sector saw a number of significant milestones in legislation such as the enactment of the National Land Use Policy to provide remedies to challenges that affected the managing of land use practices such as unco-ordinated legal and policy frameworks; and the gazettement of the regulations that operationalised the Community Land Act, 2016 after two years of waiting.

In 2019 we anticipate registration of community land and transitioning of group ranches to community land.

To expedite registration of community land the government has to move with speed and appoint the Community Land Registrar to begin the process of registering communities. Additionally, the government should establish registry offices in Marsabit, Samburu, Turkana and Tana River counties as these counties hold the bulk of the unregistered community land and do not have registry offices.

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Last year we saw improved government commitment to protect public land which we hope to be continued in 2019. An audit of all the public land in Kenya was commissioned by the National Land Commission, and the report is expected sometime this year.

JUSTUS WAMBAYI, Land governance expert.

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