The Land Development and Governance Institute carried out a field research mission from the 27th to the 30th April in Lamu County. The field research mission aimed at establishing the extent to which community land rights are protected during large scale land acquisitions. Lamu is one of three key sites that have been subject to large scale land acquisitions that the Instituteseeks to explore. The other two include Siaya and Isiolo.
The field research mission involved data collection methods such as interviews with county administrative officials, focused Group discussions with the various interest groups, interviews with traders, transect walks and site survey.
The research team had a good engagement with government officials and various stakeholders who provided information on the land administration regimes in the area and gave insight on the challenges faced by communities and county administrative officers in ensuring the protection of community land rights amid large scale land acquisitions.
Lamu County is central to the LAPSSET project since three of its components; a port, a road network and an oil refinery will be in the county. The focused group discussions and transect walks which had observed gender considerations, included youth and elders as well as business traders, provided information on the various ways in which each group had been affected by other land acquisitions following the project.
The mission helped the team put into perspective the various land related disputes that had ailed the county and contributed to the security issue that had engulfed the area. It was evident that customary and contemporary forms of land ownership in the area had largely contributed to the disputes. Irregular titling and poor land use methods were also evident and had been occasioned by the speculative purchase of land in the area due to the project development. Public participation had not been fully exercised with majority of the community members expressing lack of trust in the system due to the lacktransparency in the compensation.
The findings pointed to the inadequacy of social and environmental safeguards in implementation of large scale projects and the reality that often times, local communities do not receive the full expected benefitof such projects. The Institute shall continue to engage with communities and stakeholders to find out how best to improve the processes.