The Kenyan Constitution 2010 is special to communities living within the ASAL region in Kenya because it is the first to consider community land as one of the 3 land tenure systems in Kenya. This hence marks the beginning of a process, which if implemented effectively, will provide communities an opportunity to take control over the access, ownership and usage of their land and natural resources for improved livelihoods. In support of this, KLA is running a project towards securing the land rights of communities within the ASAL region in Kenya whose goal is resilient and sustainable pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods in ASAL areas of Kenya by 2016. The project objectives are;
- To strengthen collaboration, partnerships and networking among the ASAL land users and other relevant institutions within the region to build a strong-voice in vocalizing for their land rights.
- To empower communities within the ASAL region with the necessary knowledge and skills to meaningfully participate and input into the land reforms implementation process.
To achieve the desired goal and objectives, KLA has employed various strategies towards this which are;
- Community mobilization which is geared towards bringing together and organizing communities within the ASAL region to participate in policy, legal and constitutional reforms debates, both at local and national levels.
- Nurturing collaborative Partnerships which is necessary in building a strong voice for advocacy to have maximum impact.
- Community capacity building which entails creating awareness to communities on their land rights and mechanisms through which these rights can be enforced.
Among the activities the project is engaging in are;
- Organizing stakeholder dialogue forums which bring together communities, community leaders and relevant organizations to deliberate on challenges and opportunities within the Community Land Law formulation and implementation process and the progress of the same.
- Organizing stakeholder policy advocacy workshops.
- Exchange visits for communities both regionally and locally.
- Strengthening of KLA regional offices within the ASAL region.
- Awareness creation through production of simplified IEC materials, radio and TV programmes, organizing civic education forums, production of policy briefs
Facilitating ASAL communities to attend relevant policy making forums.
Participants during the Community Land Watch Network formulation forum in Tana River County
A poster on the key provisions within the proposed Community Land Bill
Mepoho Shrine’s success story on its gazettment through a Land and Natural Resources Forum in Kaloleni, Kilifi County
Mepoho’s success story arose when Ilishe Trust, the host organization for the KLA Secretariat in Coast region organized a land and natural resource forum in Kaloleni town, Kilifi County. Mepoho shrine is one of the sacred sites for the Mijikenda communities. It is located at Kaloleni Town within Kaloleni Sub County. Unfortunately, the site is not gazetted and falls within private land. Attempts to negotiate with the land owners to enable cultural groups access the site without hindrance have been futile.
Cultivation is being conducted in areas surrounding the shrine that threatens its sustainability. It was in the midst of all this that they got to hear about Kenya Land Alliance a non-governmental organization that handles among other issues giving legal advice in the land rights centres.
The Kaya elders visited Kenya Land Alliance Offices in Mombasa on 13th February 2014. We advised them that the only possible solution to the problem being witnessed in Mepoho shrine is to have that shrine gazetted. It will no longer be susceptible to any interference from the local people.
Together, we paid a courtesy visit to the National Museums of Kenya Offices, located in Old Town Mombasa. We met with Mr. Athman Hussein, the Assistant Director, Coastal Region, Director of Regional Museums, Sites and Monuments. He noted that the problem begun during Moi’s regime because this was the time the region was faced with massive land grabbing. In addition, there are individuals who don’t believe in the shrines; more so Mepoho and thus do not want the continuation of the shrine’s activities.
In light of this, the Director further noted that a Kaya Council was constituted in 2013 to look into the problems facing Kayas in the region. The process of gazettement for the Kaya MEPOHO shrine had been initiated by the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). Once gazetted, any development on the land/shrine will have to get approval from NMK. The Kaya elders made a formal request to the Director to be supplemented with a letter that will prove the shrine is in the process of gazettement thus enable them go on with their normal activities. They have since been granted the letter pending gazettement. Mr. Athman Hussein promised to facilitate a meeting between the Kaya Mepoho community and the Cabinet Secretary Dr. Hassan Wario, Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts for them air out their concerns and have their issues resolved.