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June 20, 2018

Poor land use threatens Uhuru’s Big Four agenda

Deputy President  William Ruto presents Lands Sessional Paper 1 of 2017 on National Use Policy to the CS Farida Karoney (left) during the launch at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC). With them is Water CS Simon Chelugui (centre).PICTURE REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS
Deputy President William Ruto presents Lands Sessional Paper 1 of 2017 on National Use Policy to the CS Farida Karoney (left) during the launch at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC). With them is Water CS Simon Chelugui (centre).PICTURE REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS

The absence of a well-defined land use policy puts President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda in limbo, a land development expert has warned.

The Sessional Paper No 1 of 2017, launched on Tuesday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, shows land use is poor.

Land Development and Governance Institute chairman Ibrahim Mwathane said the situation has resulted in haphazard approach in the management of land use and policy responses.

Mwathane said development in peri-urban areas has caused a lot of mess.

"Pastoral areas such as in Kajiado have since been developed, as well as agricultural areas in Central Kenya and the Rift Valley," Mwathane said.

Mwathane said the housing project will be a tall order in the current land use framework.

Manufacturing, universal healthcare, affordable housing and food security are President Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda, which are largely based on land use.

Kenya is grappling with a shortage of 200,000 housing units annually, with only 50,000 new units being constructed every year.

 Due to the uncoordinated legal and policy frameworks, the policy says, there is little that has been done in unraveling problems in land management.

Kenya now faces a challenge oo how to strike a balance between satisfying human livelihood needs and sustainable use of resources.

There are no clear guidelines on the  proper use  and productivity of land both at the national and county levels.

However, Lamu county has been supported by World Wide Fund For Nature has developed County spatial plan, while Bomet is processing its guidelines.

Other challenges the country faces include decline in supply of water and pasture, poor quality of air and water, destruction of water catchment areas and desertification.

Following the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution 2010, Urban Areas and Cities Act (2011), the County Government Act (2012), the Land Act  (2012), Land Registration Act (2012), National Land Commission Act (2012), Land Amendment Act (2016) and the Community Land Act (2015) were enacted.

In addition, Article 60 of the Constitution requires land should be managed and used in a manner that is "equitable, efficient, productive and sustainable".

The land use policy says cultural practices, urbanisation and growth of cities have led to subdivision and conversion of agricultural pieces into residential, commercial and other uses.

Food security also continues to be dealt a major blow.

 “Agricultural land production is largely characterized by subsistence farming, where there is low uptake of technology and limited land inputs, resulting in low production and poor quality products,” the policy reads in part.

Farming in marginal lands, the policy states, has also led to decline in land productivity, loss of biodiversity, environmental degradation and loss of moderation of the micro climate.

The policy states that the effects of climate change in form of drought, unreliable rainfall patterns, flooding, rise in temperatures among others leading to decline in agricultural productivity.

On Housing, the policy says not much has been achieved in development of adequate shelter for all.

The most notable reasons, the policy states, are low income levels for majority of population, high cost of land, shortage of skilled manpower, high cost of building materials and inadequate funding in the housing sector.

In urban areas, land use is hardly in conformity with existing zoning subdivision and building regulations.

The policy shows that rapid urbanization, inadequate land use planning, unsustainable agricultural and industrial production methods are common due to lack of national land use policy.

Lack of the policy has also led to poor environmental management, poor cultural practices as well as inappropriate ecosystem protection.

The Lands ministry will oversee the implementation of the policy by supervising a National Council, a National Technical Implementation Committee and a County Technical Implementation Committee. The National Land Commission will monitor.

 

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