26September2017

LAND REFORMS IN KENYA AND AROUND AFRICA

This blog focuses on issues of land reforms in Kenya and around Africa and related matters

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Mwathane

Mr Ibrahim Mwathane is a consultant in Surveying and Land Information Management and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Surveying and Photogrammetry from the University of Nairobi and a Masters degree in Cadastre and Land Information Management from the Polytechnic of East London.
 
Mr Mwathane has had extensive experience in the public sector where he served for 13 years as a field surveyor, quality control officer and a district and provincial office manager. While in the private sector, Mr Mwathane has been involved in consultancy work in surveying and land reform. He has provided advocacy and technical support to Kenya’s land policy formulation process and the continental land policy process.
 
Mr Mwathane has also served as the Chairman of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK). During his tenure, he introduced ISK to national advocacy on matters relating to land reforms and contemporary land issues in the country.
He is the immediate past chair of the KEPSA Land Sector Board, a Director with the Land Development and Governance Institute(see www.ldgi.co.ke/www.ldgi.org) and the Principal Consultant of Landscape Land Surveyors & Consultants, Nairobi, Kenya.
 
Mr Mwathane has been twice decorated with Head of State Commendation awards, first in the year 2005 for introducing reforms that greatly influenced the development of the surveying profession in Kenya then in the year 2009 for his efforts to improve service delivery in the land sector in Kenya and in helping in the formulation of the national land policy.

In Kenya those with registered private land hold either freehold or leasehold interests. A freehold interest in land is held for an unlimited period and is the kind of interest held by Kenyans in most rural areas. They are easily managed and inherited. On the other hand, a leasehold interest on land is held for a defined period after which the land reverts to the person who granted the lease. In Kenya, most leasehold interests are found in urban areas. But many leases were granted by the colonial government to promote Kenya’s agriculture and for religious purposes in various Counties. Many of these have since been passed on to local people and companies. Leasehold interests require careful management to ensure adherence to the conditions attached. If for instance one needs a bank loan when the remaining term is short, banks will require that the term be extended. If the term is close to expiry, a renewal is required if the holder is still interested. If renewal isn’t granted, complex issues over developments on the land arise.

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Over the holiday season, I’d to spend some time advising on some simple disputes. In the process, I appreciated that many, including state officers, political leaders and land owners at the rural level, haven’t fully understood their roles, rights and obligations under our current dispensation. This adversely exposes private land rights while leaving state and political leaders vulnerable to arguable lawsuits. Some experiences help to underscore.

Need to assert ownership rights

While we operated the old constitution, I was called in to help some land owner reclaim parts of his land that had been ‘declared’ public land and converted to a road of access by an area Councilor. As it turned out, the councilor was ‘feared’ in the locality. It therefore took effort to convince the land owner that he held discretion to assert his rights and reject such intrusion.

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Parklands demolition and tenure security

I learnt about the Parklands property demolition through the Nation Media Group website while away in a continental discussion on matters land. Tenure of land always occupies center stage in such discussions.  The right to own, lease and use land peacefully keeps civilizations going. The need for recognition, documentation and protection of land tenure rights is fundamental. Without recognition, we end up with multiple claimants and disputes; without documentation, one has no evidence of what they own and without protection, the rights can be defeated fraudulently or forcefully.

States that fail to protect land tenure rights risk facing social and economic instability that can, in extreme circumstances, foster political instability and threaten governments. So what happened in Parklands should attract top policy and political attention and systematic institutional redress.

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Posted by on in Land Laws

At the end of August, President Kenyatta assented and brought into life the Land Laws (Amendment) Act which amends the Land, the Land Registration and the National Land Commission Acts. Some provisions in the new law need to be carefully noted.

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Kajiado a challenge for surveyors

Most serious surveyors dread taking up survey tasks in Kajiado County, professional fee notwithstanding. Yet such tasks relate to mundane issues like incorrectly stated sizes of parcels, absence of parcels on official registry maps, identifying parcels for valuation or resolving simple encroachment issues. I am sure this sounds familiar to those with land around Kitengela, Isinya, Kiserian, Ongata Rongai, Ngong and other parts of Kajiado. This isn’t so in most other Counties where surveyors easily use available maps to resolve such basic issues. So what makes Kajiado so frustrating and peculiar? Why are serious Licensed Surveyors uncomfortable taking up tasks in Kajiado County, leaving it to the mercy of many unregistered and unqualified surveyors who have made matters a lot worse?

 

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