• The earmarked informal settlements are Rwambiti, Kimunye, Ithareini, Mukinduri, Kibirigwi, Kiangoma, Thiguku, Kagumo, Kamuiru, Ndindiruku and Githogondo villages.
• Residents said the exercise will ease succession and access to credit facilities.
The Kirinyaga government has commenced the process of land tenure regularisation for inhabitants of 11 select villages previously designated as colonial villages.
About 91.2 hectares (225 acres) of land will be surveyed and title deeds issued to the inhabitants who have been living as squatters.
The villages are part of 149 colonial villages in the county that have dire need for tenure regularisation.
The exercise that is being implemented by the county government in partnership with Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project (KISIP) ran by the national government is being supported by the World Bank and Agence Française de Development (AFD).
The earmarked informal settlements are Rwambiti, Kimunye, Ithareini, Mukinduri, Kibirigwi, Kiangoma, Thiguku, Kagumo, Kamuiru, Ndindiruku and Githogondo.
Governor Anne Waiguru said the regularisation will provide security of tenure for residents who have been unable to carry out any meaningful development on the land due to lack of ownership documents.
Waiguru has pledged support for the full implementation of the programme to improve locals' living conditions and strengthen their security of tenure.
“The ongoing land tenure regularisation for people living in the colonial villages is a huge step towards enhancing the quality of life in the informal settlements,” she said.
Waiguru said her administration will fast-track the process of issuance of title deeds to people living in all the colonial villages once all the processes are concluded.
“The inhabitants of these colonial villages cannot wait any further, we want to give them legal ownership of the land they occupy because it is their right,” Waiguru said.
Already, the National Project Coordination Team (NCPT) and the County Project Coordination Team (CPTC) have undertaken public participation forums in the concerned wards and formed Settlement Executive Committees (SEC) and Grievance Redress Committees (GRC) in the 11 villages.
Tenants, landowners, leaders of religious institutions, youth, people living with disabilities, and members of community groups were among the 17 Settlement Executive Committee members instituted to be the bridge between residents and consultants during survey and planning.
The governor further said her administration’s interest is to ensure that all people living in the colonial villages have land ownership documents and are permanently settled.
“We will ensure the process is done in a fair and transparent manner without further delay because people have waited to get title deeds for very long,” the governor said.
Lands, physical planning and urban development executive Samuel Kanjobe urged political leaders to ensure the process is steered to conclusion without conflicts.
“Our governor wants this process concluded and titles issued as soon as possible and therefore I request you put the interest of the people first,” Kanjobe said.
The process also incorporated MCAs, chiefs and ward administrators from the 11 settlements who pledged to work together for successful implementation of the settlement programme.
Patrick Njenga, the chairman of Ndindiruki village in Mwea said residents were settled in the village way back in 1974 but have had no titles ever since.
He said they have been missing out on opportunities that require use of title deeds such as accessing credit from financial institutions to improve their lives.
Ruth Wanjiku from Thiguku village thanked the county government for initiating the process of enabling them own their lands legally, saying it will ease the process of succession in their families.
“Not having land ownership documents has been an impediment to the inheritance process when owners pass away,” she said.
David Muriuki from Rwambiti village also applauded the process that he said will be of great relief to residents.