The 27th of August 2015 will mark five years since the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya. The new Constitution brought about progress in the land reforms implementation process with the inclusion of a chapter on Land and Environment (Chapter Five), and subsequently, provisions to enact legislation to guide different aspects of land administration and management with timelines for the same. As we approach the five year mark, LDGI took to its role in ensuring implementation of laws and policies that ensure sustainable management of land by holding a dialogue forum with members of the Senate Committee on Land and Natural Resources on 6th August 2015, at the SarovaWhitesands Hotel, Mombasa.
The forum brought the Senate Lands Committee andland sector stakeholders together to discuss the progress of legislation on land currently on the floor of the Senate,especially with regard to contentious provisions of the laws, as well as point out inconsistencies in the land laws enacted in 2012 that are inhibiting implementation. The bills discussed on the day were: the Community Land Bill; the draft Planning Bill; and the draft Maximum and Minimum Land Holding Acreage Bill; all with a constitutional timeline of five years for enactment by Parliament.
Main stakeholder concerns on the Community Land Bill were clarity on whether the bill should be under the Senate or the National Assembly, possibility of meeting the constitutional deadline for enactment, and need to ensure the bill fully captures all aspect of community land issues in Kenya, owing to the large percentage of community land in the country (over 60%). With regard to the Maximum and Minimum Land Holding Acreage Bill, main issues that came out were: the bill will undermine accessibility of private land as well as foreign direct investment, the bill wasn't informed by scientific research as required by Section 159 of the Land Act, and the bill focusing on regulation of land sizes as opposed to efficient land use practices. Issues were also raised on the inconsistencies in the Land Act, Land Registration Act and the National Land Commission Act with respect to Land Registries, the Chief Lands Registrar, Settlement Programmes and Conveyancing. Stakeholders present in the forum also highlighted the various issues surrounding the physical planning bill, mainly: the institutional framework and composition of planning institutions, types of plans, procedures of developing plans and registration of documents.
The Senate Lands Committee members present also raised issues on the bills discussed on the day, mainly pointing out the dynamism of laws and the provision to amend the less contentious issues after enactment, existing gap in counties with no CIC equivalent to guide law-making at that level of governance and need to cascade CIC roles, and need for CSOs to continually contribute to and inform all laws at different stages and through different strategies to ensure protection of citizens.
The Institute will share these issues with the institutions moving forward as part of a CSOs working group with the aim of informing the bills at an early stage before enactment.