Land Ownership Legislation: How Can Politicians at the County Level Enforce Citizens’ Rights in Bungoma County - Foundation Office Kenya
Ownership, access and control of assets are widely acknowledged as the means through which men and women can develop pathways out of poverty. To this end, land is arguably recognized as one of the most vital economic, cultural and social assets. In Kenya, a vast majority depend on agriculture for their livelihoods thus a huge demand for fertile land which is approximated to about 20%. This notwithstanding, violations of land rights, including the rights of generations of Kenyans displaced through both colonial-era and more recent evictions are one of the key unresolved issues in Kenya. Poor governance of the land sector has enabled political elites to gain control over vast swaths of land at the expense of rural communities. Unresolved grievances over land rights have played a major role in the sporadic violence that plagues the country, such as the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
The country is engaged in the implementation process of land reforms that resulted from the adoption of Sessional Paper No. 3 of 2009 on National Land Policy, the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and subsequent enactment of legislations related to land . The establishment of the National Land Commission, NLC as a land governance institutional framework with constitutional mandate to drive land reforms is a landmark.
It is against this background that Kenya Land Alliance (KLA), a lead Civil Society Organization in the Land sector was engaged by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) to facilitate a two-day workshop on land laws for the members of Bungoma County Assembly and key stakeholders.
The workshop was officially opened by the Deputy Governor of Bungoma His Excellency Hillary Chongwony who lauded KAS efforts to support counties like his that were bedeviled in Land conflicts. In his own words that workshop was timely. It was also enriching that five members of the county assembly attended this workshop.
From experience and observations drawn from the two-day workshop KAS recommends:-
a) The existing knowledge gap among stakeholders requires continuous civic education for the stakeholders to engage in land reform implementation process effectively as well as to hold relevant institutions accountable for delivery of services and abuse of office which will eventually enhance democracy and good governance.
b)To reinforce civic education Information, Educational and Communication materials should be developed for stakeholders to understand the roles of each institutions and different processes in a simplified language.