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CS Wahome: Draft Policy another opportunity to get Kenya’s land matters right

CS Wahome: Draft Policy another opportunity to get Kenya’s land matters right

Nakuru,

Thursday, April 25, 2024

KNA by Anne Mwale

A new Draft land policy is crafted to be responsive to mitigations of climate change, sustainable urban planning and development and delivery of land for strategic national projects.

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Land, Housing, and Physical Planning Ms Alice Wahome said the Draft policy is intended to guarantee security of land tenure, provide effective measures of handling land injustices, accelerate registration of community land and spur uptake of technology in land administration and management

Ms Wahome indicated that Kenya’s land policy should undergo review after every 10 years to provide an opportunity for the country to take into account new lessons learnt, new priorities and emerging global issues.

Speaking in Nakuru when she presided over the presentation of the First Draft National Land Policy, 2024 to the steering committee, the CS indicated that the land policy developed in 2009 expired in 2019, presenting another opportunity to chart a master plan on use and management of land and land resources for economic growth and poverty reduction.

While stating that a society’s prosperity depends on how it uses, plans, allocates and invests in land, Ms Wahome observed that previously there have been weak linkages between land management policies and policies on agriculture, wildlife, governance and settlement.

She added that the bane of land use is poor planning resulting in land being misallocated.

The CS regretted that urban planning is lacking in some counties and that where it is done, rules and regulations are hardly followed.

She said the link between laws governing allocation and protection of natural resources has also been weak.

Ms Wahome pointed out that urban settlement guidelines have not been harmonized with the national land and agricultural policies and laws. This she noted threatens agricultural production zones and leads to land being fragmented into unproductive sizes.

“For land policies and laws to be effective, they have to be connected with national development ideals and economic production objectives. They should also be accompanied by frameworks of implementation and monitoring performance and achievements. Plans and regulations also need to be constantly reviewed based on population, technology and other dynamics,” she said.

According to the CS an effective land policy should respond to citizens’ need for easy access to land for livelihood and investment with secure titles and an opportunity for the state to formulate policies that support its strategic development goals.

Ms Wahome stated that legislative and policy measures are required to regulate the use and development of land, adopt levies on extraction of natural resources, enforce documentation of extension and change of land use, registration of rights to land and broaden the land tax base.

Enforcement of land regulatory frameworks should not only be a matter of concern to the lands departments but also other sectors because land forms the basis of investments in most sectors.

The National Land Commission (NLC) is under Article 67 (2) (b) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, required to recommend to the national government a National Land Policy.

“We have issues of land tenure as captured in the Constitution. We are trying to look at the challenges that have come up in terms of applying that law both in legislation and in practice,” Ms Wahome said.

The draft policy contains matters on land use planning; land tenure and rights; land administration and management; natural resources, environment and conservation.

Others are land information management; food security and agriculture; climate change; conflict and dispute prevention and resolution; investment, infrastructure and economy; institutional framework; and framework for implementation.

Ms Wahome said the most significant aspect of the land policy is recognition of community land as a land tenure system and a lot has been leant in trying to implement the provisions of the law.

“We have issues around climate change and the effect on land. We have issues about planning, there is a provision for maximum and minimum land holding in the Constitution whose legislation has not been actualized but we have come across issues that need to be addressed especially around land fragmentation and food security,” she added.

Article 68 of the Constitution mandates the National Assembly to prescribe minimum and maximum land holding acreages in respect of private land and to regulate the manner in which any land may be converted from one category to another.

The CS affirmed that the policy seeks to define the key measures required to address the critical issues of land administration, access to land, land use planning, environmental emerging issues among other multiple challenges facing the land sector.

She added that the policy is useful for the state for the next 10 years.

The CS pointed out that the County Government Act and the Urban Areas and Cities Act still lack regulations required to operationalize them.

The document will serve as the foundation for the national government’s review of the land policy, aligning it with current and future dynamics in the sector.

CS Wahome acknowledged the importance of regularly reviewing land policies to align them with current, emerging, and future dynamics.

She emphasized that land, being a key economic resource, must be managed equitably, efficiently, productively, and sustainably in line with established principles outlined in Articles 60 to 68 of the constitution.

Wahome further stressed the importance of equitable, efficient, productive, and sustainable land management.

She highlighted the commitment to eliminating gender discrimination, customs, and practices related to land and property.

She said the government aimed at encouraging communities to settle land disputes through recognized local community initiatives, aligning with constitutional principles.

The CS reassured that the Ministry would complete the policy review and development process by the end of the financial year, including public participation, submission of the policy to the Cabinet for approval, and presentation to Parliament for debate.

Courtesy; KNA

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