Land has always been a bone of contention and a root cause of many tribal community clashes in and around Kenya. In my travel around the country I sort to find out what is this indispensable commodity called community land.
According to Mama Leiyan a vegetable vendor in Laikipia County described community land as “Yale mashamba ambayo yamemilikiwa na jamii kwa muda wa miaka mingi” translated as the land owned by a certain community for a very long time and normally passed on from one generation to another. On the other hand, Mr David Kimalel a pastoralist in Laikipia County described community land as that portion of land that has no specific owner but everyone from that locality has a right to benefit from.
Still I was not satisfied and when I got to Nakuru town I thought may be a university student would also contribute to what community land really is.
So I meet Ms Lissa Sempeiyo she says community land, is a big chunk of land that contains a number of natural resources namely; pasture, water, wildlife heritage and indigenous community majorly located in the ASAL’s Counties in Kenya.
This led me to wonder what exactly a community land is, because I got three different answers, not to wonder if I added the fourth the situation would be critical and more confusing.
To understand the right definition and the rights of the community land it is thus important to refer to the country’s manual and book of reference. Therefore, according to Chapter 5 Article 63 of the constitution of Kenya;
- (1) Community land shall vest in and be held by communities identified on the basis of ethnicity, culture or similar community of interest.
(2) Community land consists of-
(a) land lawfully registered in the name of group representatives under the provisions of any law;
(b) land lawfully transferred to a specific community by any process of law;
(c) any other land declared to be community land by an Act of Parliament; and
(d) land that is—
(i) lawfully held, managed or used by specific communities as community forests, grazing areas or shrines;
(ii) ancestral lands and lands traditionally occupied by hunter-gatherer communities; or
(iii) lawfully held as trust land by the county governments, but not including any public land held in trust by the county government under Article 62 (2).
(3) Any unregistered community land shall be held in trust by county governments on behalf of the communities for which it is held.
(4) Community land shall not be disposed of or otherwise used except in terms of legislation specifying the nature and extent of the rights of members of each community individually and collectively.
(5) Parliament shall enact legislation to give effect to this Article.
Therefore, this means that for a land to be called community land it has to be lawfully registered under a certain group representative even if they are pastoralists or not. The community will therefore benefit from the resources that are contained in that land such as, water, grazing areas, minerals among other resources.
From the above, it show that whatever is on paper in terms of rights to ownership as well as definition of the terms is not what is understood by Wanjiku. It is thus important to sensitize the community on matters of constitution. Especially the marginalized communities in Kenya as well as pastoralists who experiences the heat of their rights being violated.
Do you know your rights to the community land? Do you benefit from it? Are you responsible to its development or are you between the pollutant as well as part of the problem? A you sure the Community land that you claim to own is registered?