Article: How Counties Can Support Communities On Community Land Matters (Part II) – Guest Author

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[By: Taalamu Guest Author for June 2020]

The first part of this article on the opportunities for counties to support formalization of community land ownership through registration, I discussed the improvements to be made in terms of human resource capacity, technical expertise and equipment. This second part shall touch on the less tangible but more important inputs: budget allocation and political goodwill.

The importance of budget allocation in delivering any development outcome cannot be overstated. The best way to execute all the proposals being made in this article is for a county to come up with a detailed county-level community land administration programme. This programme can include proposals for: institutions that can be set up to coordinate the processes leading up to community land registration, county legislation that will establish the said institutions and outline their functions, equipment and technology to be procured, the targets to be met for specific time periods, and the funds to be dedicated to all of these. Even the initial step of coming up with a county-level community land registration programme will require funds to move. The list of specific details that require funds consistently is a long one, and if the community land agenda was a vehicle, adequate financial resources are the fuel that will move the vehicle.

Finally, the political leadership of the county should be on board this figurative vehicle of formalizing community land ownership through registration. Some of these proposals, no matter how well intended, will meet resistance due to competing development interests at the devolved level. Often, plans are made and approved to support county land programmes but these allocations are the first resort when the county faces unexpected financial challenges. ASAL counties are often the worst hit by floods, drought, livestock disease outbreaks and other natural phenomena and when these disasters happen the county executive often ‘borrows’ money from departments that are deemed less essential such as the lands department. Even after community land administration programmes have been drafted and approved, the programmes will have to be consistently funded until they are complete. For the programmes to remain on track, the agenda will require the backing of the county’s political class in every financial year. This includes the County Executive who need to support the implementation of the programme, as well as the County Assembly members who enact county policies and laws approve annual spending plans.

Real Estate Law Books and Gavel

All these aspects that will contribute to sustainable management of community land involve different levels of the county executive and the county assembly. For that reason, it would be ideal to have a county body that is dedicated to coordinating all these components and ensuring they are all moving towards a common goal. Taita Taveta County for example have drafted a Bill that seeks to establish a multi-disciplinary board whose main function will be to supervise and coordinate all matters relating to management of community land.

Different counties may opt for different strategies to fast track community land registration, but overall, the human resource capacity, technical expertise, appropriate equipment and technology, financial resources and political goodwill will all be necessary if we are to make any kind of progress on the matter.

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 lists recognizing the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development among the objects of devolution. Through the interventions proposed above, county governments can support the communities they represent and indeed help further their development with respect to sustainable community land management.

[By: Taalamu Guest Author for June 2020]


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