We Must Give Land Reforms
Business Daily (Nairobi)
3 February 2008
The importance of land in our social and economic development,
peace and security, cannot be gainsaid.
Therefore, a suitable land policy framework as a basis for
securing land rights to improve livelihoods and facilitate
sustainable economic development remains a priority for Kenya,
eastern Africa and the continent.
To this effect, delegates from the 13 nations of eastern Africa
region met in Kigali, Rwanda, for three days from January 16 in a
Regional Workshop organised to advance this objective. This was
the second of the five Regional Consultative Workshops planned to
gather region-specific content as part of the continental
initiative to develop a Land Policy Framework for Africa.
The initiative is driven by the African Union, the African
Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for
Africa. It commenced in Addis Ababa in March 2006 and involves a
wide range of stakeholder consultations that are intended to
gather consensus on the key elements that should characterise the
framework. This effort has since led to the development of a
continental background document summarising land issues in Africa.
From this, a draft framework of land policy and land reform in
Africa was drawn. The Regional Workshops will in return improve
this draft framework by pointing out the key land issues or gaps
in each of the regions.
The first of these workshops was held for Southern Africa States
in Windhoek, Namibia in August 2007. Other workshops for Central,
Western and Northern Africa will follow.
Thereafter, the enhanced framework will be subjected to an African
Experts Meeting and subsequent approval by African Ministers
handling land docket before presentation for adoption by the
summit of African Heads of State and Government. The resultant
framework and guidelines will guide the formulation and
implementation of land policies by African Union member states.
For this purpose, the AU groups Eastern Africa to constitute the
Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, Tanzania, Somalia,
Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.
This cuts across countries which are members of IGAD, EAC, COMESA
and even, as for Tanzania, SADC. Delegates did notice the curious
omission of Burundi, a member of EAC, from the group and suggested
, it should fall in Eastern and not Central Africa as is the case
Despite the post-poll strife, Kenya managed to have representation
from among others, the chairman of the Institution of Surveyors of
Kenya, the National Coordinator of the Kenya Land Alliance and the
Coordinator of National Land Policy Formulation Programme, Messrs
Mwenda Makathimo, Odenda Lumumba and Reuben Murugu respectively.
Issues and omissions specific to Kenya were, therefore, well
identified. And, of course, the relevance of a regional approach
to suitable land policy reforms couldn't have been better rubbed
in by the skirmishes in Kenya. These had affected neighbours
Uganda, Rwanda and Southern Sudan in particular and delegates were
quick to point this out.
Trade in services and goods had been severely affected following
the interruption of road and rail traffic through Kenya, leading
to shortages of fuel and other products.
Kenyans continue to call for suitable land reforms to address
issues relating to poverty and inter-ethnic conflicts, among
others. This aligns quite well with the continental land policy
Kenyan delegates who attended this forum should hence lobby our
Tenth Parliament to give priority to the discussion on our
national land policy as a broad strategy to help resolve some land
related concerns that added to the post-poll violence.