THREAT TO FOOD SECURITY

NLC puts 43 counties in the spotlight for failing to develop spatial plans

Lamu, Makueni, Bomet and Kericho- have developed their spatial plans

In Summary

• A Spatial Plan is a ten-year GIS-based depiction of a county’s socio-economic development vision and program, including the distribution of people and activities, within the context of efficient, productive and sustainable use of land and other county spaces.

• It is reviewed and updated every five years in order to inform the new County Integrated Development Plan.

National Lands Commission chairman Gershom Otachi before National Assembly Lands committee on September 19, 2019 Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A
National Lands Commission chairman Gershom Otachi before National Assembly Lands committee on September 19, 2019 Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

The unsustainable management and use of natural resources continue to hinder sustainable administration and management of land, the National Land Commission has said.

Of concern to the commission is the fact that 43 counties are yet to develop their spatial plans.

This is despite being mandatory under the County Governments Act.

NLC Chairman Gershom Otachi said only four devolved units have developed their spatial plans.

“Only Lamu, Makueni, Bomet and Kericho counties have developed their spatial plans. Others cite financial constraints and other reasons,” Otachi said.

Otachi said the commission is trying to see how it can enhance political goodwill and get to sensitise the public about the importance of planning.

“Planning is primarily a county function,” he said.

The chairman said the centrality of land and land-based resources as an integral ingredient in the achievement of social and economic development cannot be understated.

Otachi was speaking at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi during the two-day National Research Conference 2021 themed ‘Sustainable use of land and natural resources to enhance food security.’

What is a spatial plan?

A Spatial Plan is a 10-year GIS-based depiction of a county’s socio-economic development vision and program, including the distribution of people and activities, within the context of efficient, productive and sustainable use of land and other county spaces.

 It is reviewed and updated every five years in order to inform the new County Integrated Development Plan.

Otachi said NLC has in the recent past done two conferences in Kisumu and Mombasa with planners with a view of understanding challenges facing the devolved units.

He said the main challenge was that most did not have their spatial plans in place.

Lack of resources, weak technical knowledge, skills, and lack of effective tools and technologies hinder effective formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of spatial plans.

Otachi said despite the challenges, the country has made considerable efforts to promote sound land policies in a bid to ameliorate these challenges.

He said NLC will be partnering with a varied number of institutions as it endeavours to conduct research related to land and the use of natural resources and make recommendations to appropriate authorities.

FOOD SECURITY

The NLC chair said matters food security is closely linked to planning.

“We know for instance that one of the great challenges we have had in the recent past and moving forward is land fragmentation and the manner in which land is used particularly when it is fragmented and is not properly used for agriculture has an effect on food production.”

NLC manages public land on behalf of the national and county governments; recommend a National Land Policy to the national government; advise the national government on a comprehensive program for the registration of title in the land throughout Kenya.

The Commission can also initiate on its own initiative or on a complaint, into present or historical land injustices, and recommend appropriate redress; encourage the application of traditional dispute resolution mechanisms in land conflicts.

The conference is coming at a time conflict over resources has heightened in some parts of the country.

Education CAS Sarah Ruto represented CS George Magoha at the conference.

The government through the food security pillar seeks to increase by 34 per cent the average daily income of farmers; achieve a 27 per cent reduction in malnutrition among children under five.

The government also seeks to create 1,000 agro-processing SMEs and 600,000 new jobs; achieve over 50 per cent reduction in the number of food-insecure Kenyans; 48 per cent increase in Agriculture sector contribution to GDP and 47 per cent reduction in the cost of food as a percentage of income.

Ruto said her ministry has always supported and will support the National Research Agenda through NRF.

“I am happy to note that since the inception of the fund in 2015, a total of Sh. 6,148,396,461 has been mobilised for research funding. The government has allocated Sh 5,864,053,711 while Sh. 284,342,750 has been mobilised from development partners,” she said.

NLC CEO Kabale Tache said the research will go a long way in generating useful data and driving the government’s agenda.

To support the land sector in the country, NRF in collaboration with NLC said there is a need to engage the research community to address the sustainable land management and use of natural resources in support of food production.

NRF presents a national Strategic Call for research Proposals focusing on the human settlement on food production and trends over time.

The GIS and remote sensing technology will be used to produce land use maps and integrate other datasets such as rainfall, soils.

NRF said there is a need for research on land tenure is the system of rights and institutions that governs access to and use of land and other resources.

It also said there is a need to research the management of riparian reserves and other ecologically sensitive areas to support livelihoods as well as other interventions necessary to secure Kenya’s food basket areas.

Edited by D Tarus