The 48th Edition of the KARA Bi-Monthly Talk Series took place on 25thApril 2016 at the Laico Regency Hotel. The theme of discussion was:

Land Reforms in Kenya: What are the challenges and gains realized so far? The speakers were Mr. Mwenda Makathimo (Executive Director, Land Development and Governance Institute), Prof. Paul Mwangi (Principal Secretary, Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development) and Mr. Tom Chavangi (Chief Executive Officer, National Land Commission). Participants were drawn from Kara members, partners and friends.

Prof. Mwangi pointed out that the Ministry had recorded great milestones such as facilitating development of various land legislations to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya. The Ministry has also automated land operations across the country and set up digitized registries to enhance access to services at the County level. On the issues of public spaces, the PS challenged residents associations to play a more active role in supporting enforcement of the laws governing protection and utilization of the land. He pointed out that the Ministry will work closely with the National Land Commission to ensure that grabbed public spaces revert to the community.
On the challenges, the PS stated that the process of enacting various laws at times take time because of the elaborate parliamentary process which the Ministry has no control over. He also noted that the level of awareness among the public on their roles and responsibilities is still very low and the Ministry is keen to carry out public sensitization across the country.

Mr. Makathimo stated that some progress has been made as far as land reform is concerned. These include: Enactment of relevant legislations, titling programme in the Rift Valley and Coastal regions and the establishment of 16 new land and environmental courts. However some challenges exist and these include: Timelines in enacting some critical land legislations; Wrangles between the Ministry and NLC on the interpretation of various statutes; automation of registries being done but there are no supporting infrastructure to ensure their operations; lack of transparency and accountability in carrying out some functions of the Ministry; presence of brokers who collect money illegally from the public. He also noted that the land and environmental courts still lack experienced judges and the court registries are still manual. He added that the land sector also faces challenges from foreign influence and non convergence of ideas within the civil societies. He urged the government to provide more resources to the Land Ministry.

Mr. Chavangi stated that the land sector has made numerous gains amidst some challenges which the various government organs are working on. Some of the challenges facing the NLC in particular include: Minimal fund allocation, inadequate staffing, wrangles between the Ministry and the Commission on interpretation of laws (at the initial stages). However he said the new Lands CS Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi has succeeded in bringing cohesion and coordination between the Ministry and the Commission. Some of the gains realized so far include: Revocation 2400 titles of public land acquired illegally by private individuals; acquisition of 476kms of land between Mombasa and Nairobi for the Standard Gauge Railways project and the Lappset project, formulation of various land laws, partnership with donors and other stakeholders to deal with land reform and working closely with the County land management boards for effective service delivery. He invited participants to engage the NLC through the secretariat which is responsible for implementation of the Commission’s agenda.