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Land reforms agenda paying dividends

By Jennifer Wambua | February 24th 2017 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300


Land remains a thorny issue, especially during an election year. There is renewed hope that reforms so far implemented by the National Land Commission (NLC) have addressed the many concerns that relate to the often touchy land question.

Indeed, there is clear evidence that despite various challenges that have dogged the commission, sometimes threatening its very survival, it has made significant progress in dealing and resolving most of the concerns raised by Kenyans, particularly in relation to land rights restoration.

Some politicians have the habit of raising and using issues touching on land as campaign tools, but as soon as they are elected, they abandon the agenda only to resurrect the same during the subsequent electioneering period.

We are likely to witness more of such politicians this year as Kenyans prepare for the August poll. Therefore, even as land remains one of the most emotive and at times divisive subject that threatens to polarise the country, there is light at the end of the tunnel that with adequate political goodwill, NLC would eventually solve most of the contentious land-related matters.

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Indeed, the fact that NLC is seeking to cultivate a good working relationship with the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning and other relevant Government agencies indicates that the land reform agenda is on course and it is only a matter of time before all the players witness a fully transformed sector.

Although the issue of land has been the cause of many violent conflicts throughout Kenya’s colonial and post-colonial history, the coming into existence of NLC, thanks to the new constitution, is bound to reverse this negative trend.

Regarded as the most radical and potentially transformative, the National Land Policy of 2009 on which NLC is founded has helped establish a strong basis for continued land sector reforms.

The fact that the policy is embedded in the Constitution is a guarantee that the ongoing reforms and changes within the sector are unstoppable.

As an independent commission, NLC is mandated to manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments, initiate investigations into present or historical land injustices and recommend appropriate redress, and monitor and have oversight responsibilities over land use planning throughout the country. No doubt, this is a mandate the commission has so far ably executed.

The commission’s staff and partners have consistently demonstrated resilience in the face of challenges and even discouragement emanating from powerful land cartels and those seeking to maintain the status quo.

But the commission is determined to deliver on its mandate with the hope that it will surmount all the barriers.

Members of the public, through NLC, have a forum through which they share their views on how best the country’s land should be managed. They also have access to information and other details on land buying and titling, which was previously not easily available.

The commission’s resolve is to ensure that the public is fully in a position to make clearly informed choices as regards land.

It therefore wants all Kenyans and foreigners seeking to buy or invest in land to be fully informed and able to make the right decisions.

This is why the commission is focusing on promoting land rights, building informed communities, investing in improved land governance and fostering conflict resolution on land matters at both the national and county government levels.

It is this resolve and determination to deliver to Kenyans in an otherwise hostile environment that won the commission the coveted Global Diamond Excellence Award for excellence and commitment.

National Land Commission title deeds
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