Strengthening Inclusion, Participation, and Good Governance using Kenya's Community Land Act
Abstract: In the context of rising global demand for land and natural resources, there is an urgent need to strengthen community land tenure security. In Kenya, a new window of opportunity emerged to protect community land rights in 2016 when the government passed the Community Land Act. However, to date the provisions of that Act remain largely untested. Against that backdrop, this action research project will test approaches to scale-up community land protection efforts. Namati’s Community Land Protection Program deploys paralegals to support communities to use national land laws to protect their land and resources. This approach combines the legal and technical efforts to map and document lands, with community-level governance efforts to resolve land conflicts, ensure equity with the community, and promote accountable and participatory management. The project includes a specific focus on protections for women and minority populations, and will test approaches to enhancing their participation in decision-making over communal land and during negotiations with investors.
A mix of research methods will investigate the following questions: (i) What are the institutional and policy barriers to securing community land tenure? (ii) How can land registration processes and community-level rules protect women and minorities against exclusion and disenfranchisement? Findings are expected to strengthen community land rights and governance. The research team will draw on evidence from its grassroots work to strengthen efforts to implement the Community Land Act at the county and national levels. A similar project is currently underway in Sierra Leone that will allow the team to generate comparative learning on these research questions. This project is part of a cohort of IDRC-supported projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, entitled Using Action Research to Improve Land Rights & Governance for Communities, Women & Vulnerable Groups. In parallel to this project, the Land Development Governance Institute will be leading complementary research on the Community Land Act, in an effort to build a larger body of evidence and advocacy to ensure the Act’s successful implementation.