Over 60% of Kenya’s land mass is community land. Most of this land falls within the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya.
The 1968 Act legalized the ownership and occupation of land by a group of people, and provided the legal basis for the establishment of group ranches.
These group ranches have now become somewhat famous in conservation areas around national parks and reserves, such as Amboseli, Southern Rift, Maasai Mara, Tsavo, and Laikipia.
In Laikipia, about 25% of the total area of Laikipia is community land, with most of the community land operating under the Land (Group Representative) Act of 1968!
They are an essential element of the Laikipia landscape and its land use; we have 13 group ranches.
The Community Land Act was signed into law on 31st August 2016 and it commenced operation on 21st September 2016. The Act specifically provides for the recognition, protection, and registration of community land rights; management and administration of community land; and the role of county governments in relation to unregistered community land. To date, most community land titling has been slow to happen.
In Laikipia, the process of community land titling is supported by FAO. Only one of our group ranches has received its community land title since 2016 – IL Ngwesi.
In addition, the Act gives communities the opportunity to use and manage collectively land that is communally owned, by forming Community Assemblies and Community Land Management Committees.
Communities can then freely enter into agreements with investors to maximize returns from their land, and to all benefit more directly and collectively from these agreements/contracts.
Below is a summary of the process and requirements for the registration of community land in Kenya:
- A community claiming an interest in or right over community land shall register its rights under the Land Registration Act. They must also have a plausible justification for why they are registering the community land as a collective, e.g. common ancestry, similar culture, etc.
- The community land in Kenya shall vest in the Community. All adult members of this community must be listed during the registration process. This includes women, a first for the community land registration.
- The community shall elect representatives to manage and administer the registered community land on behalf of the respective community.
- Before submission of the community formation and registration documents to the registrar of societies, the local chief must authenticate these documents by applying an official stamp to the application documents and letter.
- The elected community representatives must then present these authenticated documents at the Registrar of Societies. The Registrar of Societies then provides the community with a registration certificate after due diligence. This means the community is officially registered, but their interest in the land has not been documented.
- The registered community identifies a surveyor, who is duly licensed to practice as a land surveyor. The surveyor provides an index map of the country and dials down to the specific area of land of interest on the official map of the area. The surveyor gets a general map of the area from Survey of Kenya, Folio Register (FR) which is represented by the FR number.
- With the FR map, the Survey of Kenya indicates the reference points for the parcel, this guide the surveyor in placing new coordinates on the ground relative to the official control points. Once the points are marked, beacons are planted to mark the new points. A list of coordinates demarcating the boundaries is then established in relation to these points.
- There is an official template called the deed plan that shows the reference point, the new points, and the resultant maps. The deed plan is taken to the land control board for scrutiny and verification. The board may invite any other interested parties or neighbors to authenticate a claim to ensure no claimants are ignored in the process.
Want to learn more about Community Land Titling? Check out this Facilitators Guide to the Kenyan Community Land Act here.
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