Monthly Archives: August 2012

Pastoralists urged to focus on development

The pastoralists in northern Kenya have been urged to resolve their differences. MPs Mohamud Ali (Moyale) and Aden Dualle (Dujis) condemned the tribal clashes in Tana River; Wajir and Mandera counties where politics, boundary dispute and land based resources have been cited as causes of the conflict.

Pastoralist leaders called on the pastoralists communities to stop fighting and focus on development issues relating them their areas.Mr Ali and Mr. Dualle said the gun battle has depicted pastoralists negatively in the eyes of other Kenyans and advised them to embrace dialogue to resolve issues. ‘The first step is for us to use dialogue to resolve our differences as opposed to use of violence,’’ said Ali. ‘‘How are you going to prepare yourselves for the resort city and other projects under the Vision 2030 if you are fighting? Other people will come and benefit,’’ he said.

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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Uncategorized



Scramble for Turkana land:

In Turkana County, like in most pastoralist areas in the country, land is owned communally. In this set up, communal land ownership is bestowed upon county councils under the Trust Land Act (Cap 288). This form of ownership ensures equitable distribution of resources for the community members who principally need the land for grazing their animals. The members of the community don’t have documents for individual parcels of land except in urban areas where they are given allotment letters as proof that they are occupying the land legitimately.

The procedure for getting an allotment letter starts with a visit to the municipal council where the clerk in turn directs the individual to the area councilor who will accompany the person to the area that is yet to be occupied. This seemingly easy process to many is still a complex and convoluted procedure to many Turkana residents

Ever since President Kibaki announced the discovery of oil deposits at Nakukulas in Turkana South, there have been major concerns on how to ensure that the locals don’t lose out.

The county council has been equivocal that locals won’t lose their land over the oil discovery, but this is doing little to assure residents who have come to take Government pronouncements with a pinch of salt. “The locals’ interests are taken care of by the Turkana County Council, the custodian of the land on behalf of the community,” assures Councilor Gabriel Lokoroi.

However, speculators have been falling over each other as they position themselves to get a piece of Turkana land, or shall we say a drop of the new found commodity? Speculators have been buying land in urban areas and shopping centers with the intention of selling the same later at inflated prices. “Outsiders are buying land through locals who agree to deal on condition that they get a commission,” explains Christopher Long ‘or, a resident of Lokichar, the urban center near Ngamia I.

Much uncertainty

“We do acknowledge that there are many loopholes but we assure the people that it is not that easy for an outsider to take their land from them,” assures Paul Ekeno, a member of the civil society amid the uncertainties surrounding land transactions in Turkana.

There have been allegations of local people swindling unsuspicious outsiders that they can acquire land on their behalf. “An outsider can only acquire land within urban areas from locals who have allotment letters on ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ basis at prevailing market rates,” adds Ekeno.  “There is no individual security on land ownership hence discouraging people from investing in real estate,” explains James Kimani, a businessman who has been in Lodwar for the past 30 years. “It is difficult to acquire loans for business and other development projects,” agrees John Lokuruka, a native of Lodwar town.

Until recently, there were few land disputes among community members, but this phenomenon is now commonplace especially in urban areas. Often, there are cases of families that migrate to other regions only to return and find other people have taken over their land. “The disputes mostly arise when the municipal council ejects the locals so as to allocate the land to someone who has already paid the money for allotment letters,” explains Moses Kai, the chief of Nakalale Location in Turkana West District.

Repeatedly, the people evicted are locals who occupy prime pieces of land on the outskirts of most urban areas like Lodwar, Kalokol, Lokichar and Kakuma.

Locals’ Ignorance

“The raia (locals) are not aware of the existence of an application letter given upon payment of a small application fee as they await the allotment and the subsequent payment of the allotment fee that is often too high for them,” explains chief Kai.

However, things could be streamlined soon with devolution, according to local leaders. “With the arrival of the county government next year, the mandate of the county council will end and land ownership issues will have been streamlined,” maintains Councilor Lokoroi. “In Lodwar town, there are people who have resided in their current premises for more than half a century with only allotment letters issued by the county council as proof of ownership,” explains Moses Napeto, an area resident

In the meantime, locals constructing permanent homes seem not to be deterred by this lack of title deeds. Lodwar town has many faces depending on the side one would be looking at. While the town center lacks in planning and has slum-like dwellings, some parts are well planned with access roads and one would be forgiven for thinking that he or she is no longer in Turkana County.

Unlike in the traditional Turkana society where it is the woman’s responsibility to build houses, for the educated Turkana man, the construction of a house is solely his responsibility.

 Lifestyle upkeep

 Most men who work away from home construct houses in which they barely spend two months per year because for them, it is prestigious to come home and have a life as comfortable as that in the urban areas. “When a man dies, he has to be buried in his own compound and there must be a house,” explains James Ekaal, a resident of Lodwar.

While sand is in abundance in this semi-desert region — as it’s freely scooped from the many dry riverbeds — the cost of constructing houses in the region is still high compared to most parts of Kenya. Transportation of sand is expensive due to the poor state of the roads and the high taxes levied by the county council.

A lawyer who requested to remain anonymous, told Home & Away that his house cost him more than Sh7 million. He is of the opinion that the house could have cost less had it not been for the transportation of materials from Kitale, the nearest town from Lodwar.

During the colonial period and most of first President Jomo Kenyatta’s regime, Turkana County, then a district was a closed district with the main access route leaving Kitale through Uganda and re-entering the county through the Amudat border.

It was not until the completion of the Kitale-Lodwar highway that serious construction began and this probably explains the underdevelopment of real estate in the region

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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Uncategorized



Critical lessons for integration commission’s peace initiative:

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC)’s recent peace initiative in Nakuru County provides critical lessons on the delicate nature of peace building and conflict management.

NCIC chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia, who led the initiative, should now adopt an approach that recognizes the fact that peace building encompasses long-term transformative efforts as well as peacemaking and peacekeeping. It is important that the NCIC seeks to find answers to the lingering issues raised regarding the Draft National Policy on Peace Building and Conflict Management (NPPBCM) developed in August 2007 to address challenges to sustainable peace.

Perhaps, because therein lies the answers to the ‘false’ start of peace initiatives in the 10 counties of Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Isiolo, Marsabit, Bungoma (Mt Elgon area), Lamu, Tana River, Nandi, Kisumu, Kericho and Kisii, which are viewed as clashes hot-spots.

These counties were worst hit by post-election violence that left more than 1,200 dead and another 500,000 displaced. The ghost of the chaos continues to haunt Kenyans, what with the enduring plight of many internally displaced persons, ethnic tensions and the heated national political climate.

After six MPs in Nakuru County rejected the peace initiative, snubbing a peace caravan to reconcile and encourage peaceful co-existence between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin, NCIC must return to the drawing board to address political tensions ahead of the General Election, since the communities appreciate the process.

Draft policy

Dr Kibunjia and his team will have to heed the advice sounded out by non-State actors involved in peace building and conflict management this week during a meeting with journalists in Nairobi. NCIC should urgently study, evaluate and interrogate the draft peace building policy has largely remained away from the public domain, even as the country looks ahead to a National Peace Conference on August 27.

The Draft National Peace Policy is already coming into sharp focus as civil society calls for a renewed urgency to finalize its development, noting that it needs to be re-aligned to the new Constitution and the National Accord and Reconciliation Act that set up the Coalition Government.

Peace building civil society organizations are alarmed that the critical concerns raised about the Draft National Peace Policy remain unaddressed. NCIC should run fast to these peace lobbyists led by the Peace and Development Network Trust (PeaceNet) if it hopes to jump-start the abortive peace bid in the 10 hotspots.

“There are critical gaps in the current draft National Peace policy, for instance lack of clear cut policy statements, as well as an implementation framework that need to be addressed,” says PeaceNet Chief Executive Officer Stephen Kirimi.

Before reaching out to politicians calling for an all-inclusive process to achieve harmony in the transition period into a devolved system of governance, Kibunjia’s team should tread with caution because the politicians themselves have been identified as one of the causes of clashes, including the post-election violence. Instead, the NCIC team should huddle and hob-nob with PeaceNet, rope in other stakeholders in seeking a smooth roadmap to a peaceful election and possibly a permanent solution to the ever looming threat of ethnic tension, violence, loss of life and destruction of property.

Civil society is raising genuine concerns about the Draft National Peace Policy and NCIC must remain wary of remarks of a working group hosted by PeaceNet at a media briefing in Nairobi this week: “The Draft National Peace Policy is not cognizant of other existing peace building structures like the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), the ministries of Finance, Special Programmes among others through mapping. In particular, only a passing mention is made of the NCIC, a permanent body whose mandate directly relates to the subject matter of the policy….”

A harsh indictment indeed, bearing in mind that NCIC teams are already in the 10 counties, ostensibly “fine-tuning plans for peace building”.

They will have to retreat and re-evaluate their role and intervention mechanisms if they hope to make an impact the reason why a Peace Policy that “…articulates a clear link between … non-specialized mechanisms and the specialized mechanisms of the national peace infrastructure at national and county level on matters of collaboration, information and interventions sharing” is critical, offers Dr Godfrey Musila, a policy expert. 

All the same, the NCIC may not achieve much without the involvement of local politicians who hold significant influence within their communities. It has to keep in mind the politicians’ role in stoking and defusing ethnic tension according to victims of past ethnic clashes in Molo, an area where the NCIC peace initiative became a cropper.

Kibunjia has admitted that the commission was let down by the leaders in Nakuru County, forcing it to host closed-door talks for MPs, civic leaders, elders, women and religious leaders. There is apparently bad blood between politicians and elders working with NCIC to promote peace among the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities.

Nakuru County MPs are Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru Town), John Mututho (Naivasha), Joseph Kiuna (Molo), Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi), Luka Kigen (Rongai) and Nelson Gaichuhie (Subukia). The MPs and local politicians who shunned the initiative are calling for an all-inclusive process.

Even as Kibunjia also concurs with the leaders that peace building is all-inclusive, continuous process and that leaders need to speak in one voice, all stakeholders –IDPs and non-State actors, must be involved in the process. Civil society has welcomed his concurrence and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has pledged support for NCIC through the electioneering period, a peaceful General Election and a smooth transition of power next year.

It is within this context that NCIC must re-asses its’ controversial power-sharing of elective posts proposals, the thorny land issue, prosecution and restitution of historical injustices and the fair distribution of resources before the unveiling of county governments under the devolved system.

Above all it must review and renew its association and forge a cozy relationship with the national network of peace building civil society organizations from across the country by remaining true to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Uncategorized



Pastoralists to Benefit from Sh1.5m Market:

Pastoralists in East Pokot District are set to benefit from a Sh1.58 million livestock market constructed by Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC).

Nginyang goats and cattle market – constructed by the Government, through the council, and the Arid Land Livestock Programme (ALLPRO) – will cushion pastoralists from exploitation. Speaking during the commissioning of the market, KLMC representative Qalicha Wario said semi-arid areas produce over 70 per cent of the total goats sold across the country.

Mr Warios added that pastoralists would get competitive prices from the new market.“For many years, pastoralists in this area have been doing without any market despite the high number of livestock. This place will open opportunities for good market and better prices,” said Wario.

Free immunization

The KLMC official also appealed to the Government to make livestock vaccination in pastoral regions free. He regretted that residents were incurring huge losses because of livestock disease outbreaks. He said: “The cost of vaccination has led to widespread livestock diseases such as lumpy skin disease. Most pastoralists with over 500 goats cannot afford to vaccinate all their animals although it costs only Sh20 per animal.”Wario, however, challenged farmers to join unions to enable them reap maximum benefits from their livestock. The KLMC, he said, is working towards public-private partnership that aims at improving revenue, eradicating poverty and promoting peaceful co-existence among pastoral communities in the region.

Area DC Amos Mariba, who was chief guest at the event, lauded the project and urged locals to utilize the facility.

Security measures

The DC assured all businessmen that the Government had allocated Sh200 million for the construction of a police station at Chemolingot area to boost security in the region.

He also revealed that a further Sh300 million had been set aside to construct North Rift Institute of Technology to train farmers on livestock production alongside other courses.Mariba blamed cattle rustling for the spread of livestock diseases.

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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Uncategorized



Herders in gun battle with farmers over water, pasture

A herder died while five others sustained injuries after a fierce battle over control of watering points and pasture at Kambera swamp in Tigania East District.

OCPD Charles Kosgei said the battle took place at 2.30pm at River Rwonda swamp, with two neighbouring communities demanding to be in charge of the watering point.

More than 15 cows were killed while more than 75 acres of farmland were destroyed when herders burnt farms located along the Garbatulla-Isiolo highway in protest. Residents claimed two children have gone missing following the Monday morning incident after herders drove their animals into tomato and onion farms.“The man’s body was taken to Isiolo Hospital mortuary while the injured are admitted at the same hospital,” said the OCPD.

The herders had warned the farmers to relocate to Isiolo because they were preventing them from accessing water. Leaders have held a peace meeting to resolve the conflict. “I am urging them to embrace peace because you can not resolve differences through the gun,” said Kosgei.

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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Uncategorized



Land law reform geared to greater efficiency Will It Benefit Pastoralists:

A little more than a month ago a legal revolution, largely unnoticed and unheralded, took place that will change Kenya forever and for generations to come – all courtesy of the Constitution.

Three different Acts dealing with land came into force on 2nd May, 2012 – The Land Registration Act, 2012 (Act 3 of 2012), The National Land Commission Act, 2012 (Act 5 of 2012) and The Land Act, 2012 (Act 6 of 2012). The new laws have made a complete break from the 110-year-old past land law regimes.

All titles in Kenya were registered under the Governments Lands Act, Registration of Titles Act, Registered Land Act or the Land Titles Act – and all these colonial era Acts have been repealed. Other laws that have been repealed are the Indian Transfer of Property Act of 1882; The Way leaves Act, and the Land Acquisition Act.

Substituting state ownership with citizens allowed a long lease or usufractary rights is the new concept resulting in redistribution of interests in land, reallocation and converting interests in land from almost four systems into one system of law and registration.  

Land law and practices can historically be divided into three eras – the pre-colonial period i.e. prior to 12th August, 1897, the colonial period up to 1963, and then the post-independence. The new laws have attempted to address not only the inequities, injustices, and dictatorial methods of allocation of all three eras but also considered the future.

Greater efficiency in land management through laws is being projected as a reinvigorated driving force for fundamental social and economic change. Within ten years of enactment of the laws all lands in the country are destined to be registered – an utopian and whimsical idea, going by the 1963 Registration of Lands Act which had envisaged bringing all the registrations under one Act within 18 months – when even now the process was incomplete after almost 50 years. Millions of citizens do not have registered lands despite having customary and usage rights hitherto protected by the use of Trust Lands Act.

Mainstream courts

The Land Registration Act, 2012 gives the objects of the Act as “to revise, consolidate and rationalize the registration of titles to land and give effect to the principles and objects of devolved government in land registration and for connected purposes”. The process of organization and administration dispositions affecting land, leases charges transmissions and trusts, restraints on disposition and partitions is all provided for.

National Land Commission Act sets up the National Land Commission Act and effectively abolishes the Ministry of Land and the Land Office and will manage all public land on behalf of national and county government, set up land policies, advise national government on comprehensive programme for registration of title in land throughout the country. The Commission is mandated to initiate investigations into present and historical land injustices.

The Land Act 2012 deals with the substantive law in one single legislative piece and lays down laws on community land, administrative and management of private land, general provisions on leases and charges, compulsory acquisitions, settlement programmes, easements and analogous rights. The calendar for implementation is complicated and intricate and whether the deadlines set up will be accomplished will remain the challenge.

The Cabinet Secretary has to promulgate mammoth rules and regulations and forms under the Acts and supervise detailed transitional provisions on rights, liabilities and remedies of parties over land.All the three Acts preserve and secure the sanctity of old titles and every action or dealing relating to the titles but the long leases, of say 999 years, are set to be reduced to 99 years with freehold titles becoming progressively obsolete.

The mainstream courts will make way in matters of all land disputes to be resolved by the Environment and Land Courts Act which now “is vested with exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine disputes, actions and proceedings concerning land”.

The implementation and fine tuning of the new laws is likely to take a very long period and over thirty other pieces of land laws will need microscopic examination to bring various laws in conformity with the new Acts. The enactment of the laws is undoubtedly a way forward.

The allocation of lands at the whims of the Executive and at the behest of the influential, the taking of public lands and exploitation of land as a means of getting rich overnight — especially during election periods — is likely to stop.

Ruthless efficiency

The massive schemes of corrupt practices at the higher levels, and lower down at the registration desks in land offices will now be under the review of the Commission and redress from the Commission may be sought hopefully more effectively then the Attorney General who in the past was responsible for all litigation on behalf of the Ministry of Lands.

If the National Land Commission works, as it should, with ruthless efficiency and fairness the economic wealth associated in land in the country will greatly and positively impact on the economic life of tomorrow’s Kenya. Will the National Land Commission resolve hundred of disputes based on double or triple registration of prime lands? Will the 20,000 properties mentioned in the Ndung’u Report as touching public land be finalized? Will cases in court going on for decades brought to a speedy end?

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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized