Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The challenge of reforming land governance in Kenya under the 2010 Constitution*

  • Ellen M. Bassett (a1)

Abstract

In August 2010, Kenya's citizens adopted a new Constitution. Intended to rein in an imperial presidency, the Constitution initiated one of the most ambitious governance reforms seen in Sub-Saharan Africa. ‘Devolution’ establishes 47 counties with extensive powers led by a directly elected governor and legislative assembly. The transition has exposed fault lines as actors struggle over the delineation of power. This paper presents the fight between the National Land Commission and the Ministry of Lands over the right to manage public land in the period 2013–2016. The paper argues that the difficulties associated with land reform arise because of the centrality of land allocation to the maintenance of power in the country. NLC's potential to transform land relations – by addressing land grabbing, effecting land redistribution, and ensuring land access by marginalised groups – is limited. This is due to the paucity of unallocated public land and the continued strength of Kenya's statist land tenure regime.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Footnotes

Hide All
*

The author would like to acknowledge the role of the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars in funding this research through a Fulbright Scholarship in 2013–2014.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
African Center for Open Governance (AfriCOG). 2009. Mission Impossible? Implementing the Ndung'u Report. Nairobi: AfriCOG.
Alden Wily, L. 2000. ‘Land tenure reform and the balance of power in Eastern and Southern Africa’, Natural Resource Perspectives 58. London: Overseas Development Institute, DFID.
Alden Wily, L. 2011. ‘The law is to blame’: the vulnerable status of common property rights in Sub-Saharan Africa’, Development and Change 42, 3: 733–57.
Anderson, D. & Lochery, E.. 2008. ‘Violence and exodus in Kenya's Rift Valley, 2008: predictable and preventable?’, Journal of Eastern African Studies 2, 2: 328–43.
Boone, C. 2007. ‘Property and constitutional order: land tenure reform and the future of the African state’, African Affairs 106, 425: 557–86.
Boone, C. 2012. ‘Land conflict and distributive politics in Kenya’, African Studies Review 55, 1: 75103.
Boone, C. 2014. Property and Political Order in Africa: land rights and the structure of politics. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Bruce, J. 2008 [Updated 2009]. ‘Kenya Land Policy: analysis and recommendations.’ Prepared for US AID by ARD Inc., Burlington, VT.
Cheeseman, N. 2008. ‘The Kenyan elections of 2007: an introduction’, Journal of Eastern African Studies 2, 2: 166–84.
Ghai, Y.P. & Ghai, J. Cottrell. 2011. Kenya's Constitution: an instrument for change. Nairobi: Katiba Institute.
Green, E. 2006. ‘Ethnicity and the politics of land tenure reform in Central Uganda’, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics 44, 3: 370–88.
Harbeson, J. 1973. Nation-building in Kenya. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Harbeson, J. 2012. ‘Land and the quest for a democratic state in Kenya: bringing the citizens back in’, African Studies Review 55, 1: 1530.
Hunt, D. 1984. The Impending Crisis in Kenya: the case for land reform. Brookfield, VT: Aldershot.
JICA. 2014. Integrated Urban Development Master Plan for the City of Nairobi, Final Report. Part 1. Current conditions. Nairobi: JICA, 226.
Kanyinga, K. 2000. Redistribution from above: The politics of land rights and squatting in Coastal Kenya. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.
Kanyinga, K. & Long, J.D.. 2012. ‘The political economy of reforms in Kenya: the post-2007 electoral violence and the new constitution’, African Studies Review 55, 1: 3151.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights/Kenya Land Alliance. No Date. Unjust Enrichment: The Making of Land Grabbing Millionaires. Nairobi: KNCHR and KLA.
Kenya Property Developers Association. 2010. Improving efficiency at the Ministry of Lands. Nairobi: KPDA Policy Position Paper.
Klopp, J. 2000. ‘Pilfering the public: the problem of land grabbing in contemporary Kenya’, Africa Today 47, 1: 726.
Klopp, J.M. & Lumumba, O.. 2016. ‘The State of Kenya's Land Policy and Law Reform: A Political Institutional Analysis’, Washington, DC: 2016 World Bank Conference on Land and Policy. <https://www.conftool.com/landandpoverty2016/index.php?page=browseSessions&presentations=show&search=klopp>.
Korir Sing'Oei, A. No Date. ‘Devolution and land, the two thorny issues crying for attention.’ Nairobi: The Katiba Institute. <http://www.katibainstitute.org/index.php/devolution-and-land-the-two-thorny-issues-crying-for-attention>, accessed 11.11.2015.
Kramon, E. & Posner, D.N.. 2011. ‘Kenya's new constitution’, Journal of Democracy 22, 2: 89103.
Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI). 2014. Land Reforms Implementation: an analysis of citizens’ perception of the relations between the National Land Commission and the Ministry of Lands. Nairobi: LDGI.
Lumumba, P.L.O. 2013. ‘A journey through time in search of a new constitution’, in Lumumba, P.L.O., Mbondenyi, M.K. and Odero, S.O., eds. The Constitution of Kenya: contemporary readings. Nairobi: LawAfrica, 1344.
Manji, A. 2012. ‘The grabbed state: lawyers, politics, and public land in Kenya’, Journal of Modern African Studies 50, 3: 467–92.
Manji, A. 2014. ‘The politics of land reform in Kenya 2012’, African Studies Review 57: 115–30.
Manji, A. 2015. Whose Land is it Anyway? The failure of land law reform in Kenya. London: Africa Research Institute.
McAuslan, P. 1998. ‘Making law work: restructuring land relations in Africa’, Development and Change 29, 3: 525–52.
McAuslan, P. 2013. Land Law Reform in Eastern Africa: traditional or transformative? London: Routledge.
Mwangi, W. 2013. ‘Silence is a woman’, The New Inquiry <http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/silence-is-a-woman/>, accessed 11 November 2015.
Mwaura-Muiru, E. & Githuku, F.. 2016. ‘Enhancing public land management and utilization through community-led mapping model in Kenya’, World Bank Land Conference on Land and Poverty.
National Land Commission (NLC). 2014. The progress report: March 2013 to January 2014. Nairobi: NLC.
National Land Commission (NLC). 2015. ‘Report on land symposium held at Sai Rock Hotel, Mombasa, on 29th and 30th September, 2015’, <http://www.nlc.or.ke/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Annual-Land-Symposium_A-brief-Report.pdf>, accessed 11 November 2015.
Ndung'u Commission. 2004. Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the illegal/irregular allocation of public land. Nairobi: Republic of Kenya.
Norton-Griffiths, M., Wolf, T. & Figueroa, R.. 2008. ‘Evidence based policy: How does the draft national land policy measure up?’, in Gachenga, E.W., Franceschi, L.G., Aketch, M. & Lutz, D.W., eds. Governance, Institutions and the Human Condition. Nairobi: Strathmore University, 305–30.
Okoth-Ogendo, H.W.O. 1991. Tenants of the Crown: evolution of agrarian law and institutions in Kenya. Nairobi: ACTS Press.
Onoma, A.K. 2008. ‘The use of land to generate political support’, African Development XXXIII, 3: 147–55.
Pallotti, A. 2008. ‘Tanzania: decentralising power or spreading poverty?’, Review of African Political Economy, 116: 221–35.
Shipton, P., Downs, R.E. & Reyna, S.P., eds. 1988. The Kenyan land tenure reform: misunderstandings in the public creation of private property. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.
Southall, R. 2005. ‘The Ndugu report: land and graft in Kenya’, Review of African Political Economy 32, 103: 142–51.
Syagga, P.M. & Mwenda, A.K.. 2010. ‘Political economy and governance issues surrounding policy interventions in the land sector in Kenya. Final Report’, prepared for the World Bank, Nairobi.
UN-Habitat. 2010. The State of African Cities 2010: governance, inequality and urban land markets. Nairobi: UN-Habitat.
USAID. 2014. ‘Fact Sheet: USAID/Kenya Supporting Land Reform through the Kenya Transition Initiative.’ Washington, DC: USAID.
Walker, C. 2005. ‘The limits to land reform: Rethinking ‘the Land Question’, Journal of Southern African Studies 31, 4: 805–24.
World Bank. 2008. ‘Kenya Poverty and Inequality Assessment. Volume 1: Synthesis Report.’ Washington, DC: The World Bank.
World Bank. 2016. Kenya Urbanization Review. Washington, DC and Nairobi: The World Bank.
Alden Wily, L. 17 September 2016. ‘The Community Land Act: Now it's up to communities’, The Star.
Andae, G. 16 November 2015. ‘$6 million budget hold stalls Transition Authority audit of local authority assets’, Business Daily.<https://asokoinsight.com/news/6-million-budget-hole-stalls-transition-authority-audit-of-local-authority-assets-kenya>
Daily Nation, 11 October 2014. ‘MPs benefit from Sh8Bn land in Nairobi’, <http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Jubilee-MPs-Karen-Land-Horatius-Da-Gama-Rose/1056-2483368-13foe35z/index.html>.
Daily Nation, 2 October 2015. ‘Experts fear proposed laws will derail land justice.’
Daily Nation, 17 November 2015. ‘Muhammad Swazuri, governors oppose land bill.’
Fayo, G. 4 February 2013. ‘Court directs Kibaki to name national land commissioners’, Business Daily.
Gayle, D. 19 January 2015. ‘Schoolchildren flee as police fire tear gas at them during protect over local politician who “built wall” round their playground in landgrab attempt’ Daily Mail, London. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2916433/Kenya-Police-tear-gas-school-kids-demo-playground.html>.
Guguyu, O. 3 May 2014. ‘Ardhi House to close for a two week audit.’ Posted on Mwathane Blog, retrieved 6.5.2017. <http://ibrahimmwathane.com/index.php/frontpage/entry/ardhi-house-to-close-for-a-two-week-audit>.
Kenya Confidential, 2 June 2015. ‘Karen Ksh 8 billion land sold by dead owner and lawyer in shameless grabbing.’
Leftie, P. 25 November 2015. ‘MP, senators, and former MP among those lined up to replace axed ministers’, Daily Nation.
Mbaka, J. 11 May 2014a. ‘10,000 files missing at lands registry – Audit’, Standard Digital News.
Mbaka, J. 13 May 2014b. ‘10,000 missing files found at lands headquarters in Nairobi’, Standard Digital News.
Nduryu, M. & Merab, E.. 19 May 2014. ‘More than 1M ‘lost’ files found after audit at Lands Ministry’, Daily Nation.
Mwathane, I. 10 March 2013. ‘Role of county governors in land sector’, Business Daily.
Njagi, J. 13 October 2015. ‘Ministry, agency war turns to office space’, Daily Nation.
Oga, T. 3 November 2015. ‘Mavoko residents, stakeholders tell Governor Mutua to keep off disputed land’, Kamba Nation <http://www.kambanation.com/mavoko-residents-stakeholders-tells-governor-mutua-to-keep-off-disputed-land
Oruko, I. 24 March 2014. ‘Kenya: Ngilu Now Recalls Lands Officers from NLC’, The Star.
Ringa, M. 29 August 2013. ‘Uhuru issues 60,000 title deeds to coast residents’, Business Daily.
Wanambisi, L. 19 June 2012. ‘President names county transition authority’, Capital News. <http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2012/06/president-names-county-transition-authority/>.
Republic of Kenya. 2009. Sessional Paper No. 3. National Land Policy.
Republic of Kenya. 2012. The Land Registration Act. Kenya Gazette Supplement, No. 33 (Act No. 3), 2 May 2012.
Republic of Kenya. 2012. National Land Commission Act. Kenya Gazette Supplement, No. 36 (Act No. 5), 2 May 2012.
Republic of Kenya. 2012. The Land Act. Kenya Gazette Supplement, No. 37 (Act No. 6), 2 May 2012.
Republic of Kenya. 2012. The Urban Areas and Cities Act.
Republic of Kenya. 2016. The Community Land Act.
Republic of Kenya. May 2013. Organization of the Government of the Republic of Kenya. Nairobi: Office of the President.
Republic of Kenya. August 2015. The Land Laws (Amendment) Bill. Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 140 (National Assembly Bills No. 55). Nairobi: Government Printer.
Kenya Supreme Court. October 2014. Advisory opinion reference 2 of 2014.
Kenya Supreme Court. December 2015. Advisory opinion reference 2 of 2014. <http://kenyalaw.org/caselaw/cases/view/116512/>, accessed 1 January 2015.

The challenge of reforming land governance in Kenya under the 2010 Constitution*

  • Ellen M. Bassett (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed