By Steve Mkawale
As Parliament prepares to vet nominees to the National Land Commission (NLC) – a body that will manage public land on behalf of national and county governments, it is emerging that majority of Kenyans (63.2 per cent) are not aware of the deeper constitutional and policy provisions on land use, administration, and management.
The startling findings of a study by the Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI) released in Nairobi early this week raised a red flag on the level of awareness among Kenyans on four key land laws that will fundamentally change the management and use of land under the new dispensation.
The report dubbed the seventh Scorecard shows that even those aware of the existence of the new laws – the Environment and Land Act 2011, the National Land Commission Act 2012, the Land Act 2012 and the Land Registration Act 2012, do not understand the contents.
According to LDGI director Mwenda Makathimo, the survey carried out in 21 out of the 47 counties found that majority of Kenyans (79 per cent) were not aware of the new institutions set up under the new laws. Only 21 per cent of the respondents were aware of the institutions.
Mr Makathimo said the trend was worrying and called for urgent intervention by all stakeholders in the land sector considering that land is a key resource in the country’s socio-economic development.
“In the spirit of the new Constitution, there is need for the Government to initiate a proper civic education campaign to inform Kenyans on the institutions created by the new land laws, their functions and their jurisdiction,” he proposes.
Makathimo says the Government and non-state land actors should steer a campaign geared towards educating Kenyans on the importance of knowing the land laws, particularly relating to land administration and management.
“It is imperative that the Government involves mwananchi not only in the law making but also in the implementation,” he says.
On the approach to be used in the civic education, Makathimo proposes the contents of the new laws should be written in simple language that can be easily interpreted by a lay person. This, he adds, should be supplemented by thorough media campaign to raise the awareness levels.
“The vernacular FM stations are believed to reach out to and educate the common mwananchi. The authorities should also make use of the current technological advancements and employ use of ICT such as social media, email and premium text messaging services to reach out especially to the youth and to techno-savvy Kenyans,” he recommends.