Community land act recognizes Maasai women, youth on land ownership

By Abdi Hussein

Women and youth from the Maasai community who are residing in group ranches are poised to benefit from a unique community land act which will recognize women and youth on land ownership.

The transition targets to change ranches into community land. The change, which targets more than 15 group ranches in the vast county, is meant to curb the rampant cases of land conflicts and mismanagement which occur due to lack of clearly stipulated laws bound in the constitution.

Community Land Act No 27 of 2016 states that all group ranches should transit to community land and that land registration, management and protection should be regulated by a well-defined act of the constitution.

Under the group ranch management, women and youth were not recognized hence they could not make decisions on land management. The group ranch register only reflected the names of original members who are either aged or deceased.

In the new act, names of women and youth will be included in the register and though the ranch will not be sub divided into individual portions, it will be professionally managed.

Reconcile, a non-governmental organization, in collaboration with other land stakeholders across the country have come up with a two year programme dubbed “the East African Solidarity Platform (EASPO) which is supported by The Christensen Fund.

The project seeks to facilitate dialogue and learning as well as promote knowledge in securing customary tenure rights for the greater recognition of Community Land.

“We have established a Community of Practice (CoP) to undertake research to deepen Civil Society Organizations’ (CSOs)understanding in securing tenure and resource rights based on evidence generated from best practices,” Said  Kero Otieno, Reconcile NGO Executive Director.

The project appreciates the importance of technical knowledge and the need of a critical mass created through knowledge and awareness.

“We will collaboratively undertake community sensitization and awareness creation so as to create a better understanding on the different steps towards registration of the community and their lands,’ added Otieno.

Three group ranches have since begun the transition process .Olkiramatian group ranch in Magadi is the latest ranch to initiate the transition process from a ranch into a registered community land.

The ranch is located in a parcel of land of more than 20,000 Ha.

Olkikamatian group ranch members are optimistic the transition will promote equality in the distribution of resources and reduce massive corruption in the management of land.

“An increase in population and lack of trust among group ranch members due to corrupt practices has led to further sub-division of the group ranches into individual holdings. We hope the new policies will stop the vice and ensure qualified individuals assume the mantle of community land leadership,” said Leli Kalunka, a ranch member.

After independence, the government encouraged group tenure with the initial step being the introduction of the Group Representatives Act, which provided for adjudication of group ranches.

This was the beginning of collapse of the group ranches as the law exerted pressure for sub division.
Kajiado South Sub Country bears the major brunt of group ranch  land subdivision  which has attracted horticulture farming and construction of lodges within the Amboseli wildlife circuit.

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