Indigenous communities in northern Kenya set the ground for the 2016 Community Land Act to be implemented. This is a strategy of securing their collective community land rights while simultaneously increasing the role of women in land governance.
One of the most serious issues confronting Kenya’s indigenous peoples is the loss of their native lands and territories. For many years, Indigenous Peoples have advocated for suitable legislation to protect collectively held community land.
The adoption of the Community Land Act in 2016 – which provides for the acknowledgment and registration of collectively held community lands – raised tremendous hopes among Indigenous communities.
Despite this, the authorities have done very little to put the Act into action. Indigenous groups in Northern Kenya have led the way in implementing the Act in their communities.
Community leaders have taken responsibility of the process and, after receiving training on the Act’s content, have trained men, women, and youth in the villages.
As a result, the communities can now begin the process of seeking recognition and protection for their community lands.
They have formed land management committees comprised of men, women, and youth, and they have compiled and submitted to the authorities the necessary documentation for the registration of their communal lands.
Decision-making and land management have generally been reserved for male elders in pastoralist societies. Involvement of women and youth in community land management.
A major step toward their empowerment has been made with the inclusion of women and young people on community land management committees, which challenges the hurdles to inclusivity in land governance and resource ownership.
The Community Land Act has since been promoted to indigenous people living in the most remote villages and communities with high illiteracy rates in northern Kenya counties and adjoining counties. The response from communities has been astounding.
To address topics of common concern, community voices have also been amplified through various Focused Groups Discussions. Members of the community are educated on the provisions of the Community Land Act as well as the requirements of the land registration process.
Indigenous community members have been sending documentation to the relevant authorities outlining the communities’ grievances and worries regarding the delay in registering community lands, as well as the incidence of land grabbing and major conflict in this region.