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LETTERS: Register community land to reduce pasture, water wars

Tilting of community land as provided for in
Tilting of community land as provided for in the Community Land Act is a multi-stakeholder process that is both time and resource-intensive. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning should give priority the registration of community land in the coming financial year to unlock the development potential of most arid and semi-arid land (Asal) counties.

Community land is predominantly but not limited to the Asal counties of Kenya and it is the largest category of land ownership.

However, there is a higher percentage of unregistered community land than there is, unregistered private or public land.

Securing and registering community land is one of the ways through which the violent conflicts over land and natural resources that plague most of these arid counties can be addressed. These conflicts are mainly as a result of competition for access to pasture and water, especially during the dry season.

Titling of land in these areas will improve how different stakeholders can institute and enforce sustainable natural resources management practices such as land use planning and controlled grazing.

Tilting of community land as provided for in the Community Land Act is a multi-stakeholder process that is both time and resource-intensive.

To ensure all the respective government ministries, county governments and communities are involved in the process the Cabinet Secretary should set up a Community Land Titling Task force to spearhead the process as outlined in the Community Land Act, 2016 and its regulations.

Additionally, the Cabinet Secretary should ensure adequate financial resources are allocated to programmes that will support registration of community land by facilitating adjudication activities, hiring of personnel and general running costs.

Development partners such as the European Union, USAID, and the World Bank should also consider coming on board to assist in supplementing the financial resources provided by the Exchequer, and consequently contribute to tenure security, and promote investments and infrastructure development.

In the meantime, civil society and the county governments should continue raising awareness among the communities on the provisions of the community land law and mobilise adults to get identification cards as they will be required for this registration.

Justus Wambayi, Land Governance Expert

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Address poor mental health of people taking PhD studies

I was excited about the challenges of my PhD when starting. One and a half years later I’m still excited about my research, but, like most PhD projects, it’s not smooth sailing. Indeed, during orientation a professor warned that before we complete the course most of us shall have divorced. Indeed, it is happening.

Poor mental health is a problem for many postgrad students who grapple with financial burden, hostile academia, family, red-tape, tough job market, no proper career guidance.

A PhD is challenging; it is normal to feel stressed, worried, or overwhelmed sometimes. But recognise how you’re feeling early and take active steps before it becomes worse. Depression and anxiety are widespread, including among scientists, who often face intense pressure to work long hours, publish in high-profile journals, win grants and rebound after repeated rejections.

Depression affects 350 million people around the world and is the leading cause of disability globally, according to the WHO.

Solutions are at hand. Supervisors need comprehensive and compulsory training to understand researchers facing mental-health problems. Students could have more than one supervisor, so not to worry about damaging their career.

Ndirangu Ngunjiri, PhD student

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