The National Land Commission (NLC) has unveiled a land reform agenda for the next one-year, 2021/2022 meant to streamline the land sector.
The reform, which is in tandem with the Commission’s five-year strategic plan of 2021-2026, has been formulated after considering key issues affecting land governance.
Speaking during a media breakfast meeting in Nairobi, NLC chairman Gershom Otachi said land governance issues have been marked with unique systemic failures which fall under the domain of the Commission and thus need a careful analysis and discussions.
He noted that they are currently actively working to repossess illegally acquired public land across the country and added this will ensure justice and that land is unitized for the purposes that it was set aside for.
“We put on notice anyone who is holding on illegally acquired public land to surrender the same through the Commission”, Otachi said.
The chairman acknowledged that the commission is having a challenge with resources which are scarce, saying they have a deficit of about Sh3.5 billion out of the Sh3.6 billion total budget required to execute the tasks outlined in the first year of its strategic plan.
“The Government’s actual allocation available stands at Sh87 million and this may jeopardise the implementation of the planned reform agenda and road map for good land governance in Kenya,” Otachi said.
On the Historical Land Injustices (HLI) claims, the Chairman confirmed that NLC has so far received a total 740 claims from various parts of the country and out of which 395 have been admitted, 340 are under analysis, 126 have been heard and determined while hearing for 5 claims is ongoing.
He confirmed that the deadline for receiving HLI claims is 21st September 2021 confirming that Rift valley, Central and Coastal regions have submitted 360, 114 claims and 101 claims respectively.
Some Counties such as Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa and Turkana are yet to raise any claims apart from Isiolo which has submitted only one claim, the chairman said and urged Kenyans and communities with any historical injustice claims to take advantage of the remaining period and raise their claims with NLC offices in their respective counties.
On Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Otachi said that they are in the process of operationalising the recently developed Alternative Justice System Policy (AJS) to solve standing land disputes out of court.
“This month the commission used ADR to solve land standing dispute between Solai Ruyobei Community and Nyakinywa community in Nakuru County which had taken many years of hard stance by both parties,” Otachi said
The Chairman further said that as a Commission who has a key function of monitoring registration of community land, only five communities and mainly former group ranches have been registered through transitioning of undissolved groups.
“Of the 24 counties mapped out as having community land, only 10 counties namely Baringo, West Pokot, Tana River, Turkana, Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, Lamu and Marsabit have submitted inventories,” he said.
He explained as a country we are yet to register a fresh community and community land because the Ministry of Lands and Physical planning is in the process of gazetting a comprehensive adjudication programme out of which registration of community land will proceed.
Otachi noted that the commission is looking towards reviewing and harmonizing the land taxation and legal framework with the focus on increasing revenue from land resources for County Governments.
The NLC Chairman acknowledged that good land governance and reform has not and will not be rosy because of the many challenges such as interference of legal procedures by cartels and unscrupulous land dealers saying they have put on notice these cartels.
“We put such cartels on notice that their days are numbered as land management and administration is being streamlined. We also urge members of the public to report suspicious and irregular persons or procedures to help us eradicate corruption,” Otachi said.
The Commission’s Ag. Chief Executive Officer Kabale Tache Arero said they are committed to secure land rights, manage public land and exercise oversight on use of land and natural resources for the benefit of all Kenyans.
“The implementation of the plan will be largely supported by lessons learnt in the last five years. Embrace communication, consultation, collaboration, and cooperation both internally and externally” said Kabale.
By Wangari Ndirangu