Promoting Greater Community Benefit and Accountability in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Kenya
The effective development of land lies at the core of Kenya's national planning strategy, Vision 2030. Agriculture, natural resource exploitation, and infrastructure development are key to achieving the plan's objective. To deliver on Vision 2030's promise, the government will need to implement transparent and accountable processes for large-scale land acquisitions that safeguard and do not disadvantage local communities. There are concerns, among them Kenya's high levels of poverty, and unclear or insecure land tenure rights. As a result, the mainly rural population might be vulnerable to inequitable treatment during land acquisitions. Inadequate social and environmental safeguards may also result in negative impacts. This project will explore the most effective ways to ensure the accountability of government-managed processes to protect the interests of vulnerable communities during large-scale land acquisitions. The project team will review current policy and legislative criteria related to acquiring and granting lands for investment purposes, particularly those developed under Kenya's 2010 Constitution. Researchers will develop a community-based scorecard to track the impact and implementation of laws. They will use the findings as a barometer to assess whether processes governing large-scale land acquisitions are legitimate and accountable. They will also conduct interviews with public officials, investors, and other stakeholders. The research will target two regions in Kenya. Siaya County has granted a 25-year lease to a private company over the expansive Yala Swamp to undertake large-scale irrigation farming. Lamu and Isiolo counties are central to a planned new port at Lamu, and the transportation corridor which runs through Kenya to Ethiopia and South Sudan. This project is part of a series of projects promoting accountability around large-scale land acquisitions in Africa. Findings will help inform future legislation and policy.