The dynamics of land use changes in Kiambu County

5 08 2016

Introduction

Kiambu County boasts of 60.8 % urbanization compared to the Kenyan average of 29.9% (Kenya: County fact sheet) of which 90% is classified as arable land. This county is a perfect rural – urban interface whose production, consumption and mobility are fast changing. The purpose of deliberate land-use changes is to increase local capacity of lands to support the human enterprise, but to the contrary many land use practices instead reduces this capacity (Houghton 1994)[i].  This chapter posits that since the change happening on land is irreversible, a futuristic and strong management law is required to facilitate a regulated land market economy, where planning, legal and regulatory institutions, taxation and information infrastructure is functional and up to date.

The plush agricultural land is quickly giving way to blocks of flats and other residential uses. Kiambu’s close proximity to the CBD makes it an attractive bedroom town as opposed to its traditional status as a rural county whose mainstay was coffee and subsistence farming. Despite the huge potential of Peri-urban agriculture, those huge changes that are experienced so far have caused increased vulnerability for the poor, rather than an indication of the potential created by proximity to the city[ii]. This chapter acknowledges the pressure on land near the city to accommodate growth. However, conserving prime agricultural land in counties is very strategic because it is a finite and irreplaceable natural resource. Its contribution to the county should not only be measured by monetary value but also culturally and ecologically. Among the benefits that are irreplaceable include cultural heritage, clean air, and underground water recharging and carbon sequestration.[iii]

Kiambu as a rural–urban interface is subject to a wide range of transformations and flows that originate outside its domain (ALLEN, 2010). There are complex forces driving conversion of land. These conversions exerts pressure on the county‘s resources like land fills, water, sewage, transport infrastructure in an unprecedented manner. It also poses a challenge to the original owners, classified as the urban poor. The urban poor have become increasingly vulnerable and risk being pushed further into the periphery. The original owners find themselves in new circumstances that they are ill prepared to adapt. This is testament to an emergence of glaring economic disparities, redistribution of political power, and the disequilibration of social cultural institutions (Okoth- Ogendo)[iv] .

 

The heritage value of land gives the state and the citizenry the right and duty to ensure that no one individual or community can use the land in a manner that is detrimental to the present and future generations (KLA 2004). The unscrupulous land subdivision and conversion of arable land from agricultural uses to other is encroaching into a finite resource that is farmland. This has a direct relationship with current and future food security and pressure on infrastructure that increasingly marginalizes the urban poor and reduces the quality of life for all. This has prompted this book chapter to review the following fundamental aspects of land dynamics in the county by examining land use patterns in historical and social context.

Theoretical Underpinning

Political ecology perspective as a theoretical and methodological approach can help clarify dynamics of tenure changes, implication of changing land uses and the social dimensions especially on the impact on rural-urban poor. Political ecology explores changing resource access and use as imbedded within power relations. Political ecological perspectives contribute to a critical understanding of the intersection between resource management, development and poverty (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987).

Political Ecology gained credence in the 1980’s as a relatively new field of research that analyses the interaction between humans and the environment. It is also defined as concerns of ecology and a broadly defined political economy (ibid). They underpin political ecological approach through analysis of various land use forms in different countries in a historical perspective.

It deals with the following key questions: (i) how both nature and societal structures determine each other and shape access to natural resources; (ii) how constructed concepts of society and nature determine human environment interactions; (iii) the connections between access to, and control over resources and environmental change; and (iv) the social outcomes of environmental change (Schubert, 2005)[v].

In their seminal work “Land Degradation and Society” Blaikie and Brookfield (1987) developed a new conceptual framework to analyze land degradation on the basis of causal chains between the land managers  and their land, other land users, groups in the wider society who affect them, the state and ultimately the global economy. They linked Soil erosion to work of colonialists’ exploitation as opposed to over exploitation by African farmers.

Kiambu County being a land based economy traces its politics and social struggles to land access and administration over the years. Land settlement patterns have their roots in the history of land alienation that bundled the indigenous Kikuyu to villages with small plots of land. On the other hand Kiambu being squarely in the white highlands with good arable land had its good share of alienated land by settlers.

Unfortunately the policy that the Kenyatta government adopted meant that land that belonged to the people was lost forever. The president adopted the market based policies of free buyer free seller which were supported by the British- World Bank and Settlers Transfer Fund Schemes (STFS). This policy was biased to favor the rich clique who “using the economic and political leverage (Oyugi 2000)[vi]” at their disposal bought and maintained those farms through succession which have become the lucrative new frontiers of Real Estate in Kiambu.

As we analyze the historical perspective we connect the link of land alienation, unsustainable land subdivision, and deforestation and to the policies adopted by Colonial government and exacerbated through bad policy by the successive administrations as demonstrated in the Ndung’u report. For example the forest cover in Kenya decreased from 30% in the 1900 to 3% in 1963 at independence less than the 10% recommended by the United Nations (UN).

The arguments extended by Swynnerton as discussed in this chapter laid down the ground rules that has defined land tenure in Kenya to date. The Free enterprise economists and planners (Okoth – Ogendo, undated) fronted land individualization and security of tenure as the panacea for underdevelopment as opposed to public control of land uses (the justification of these arguments thought has not been empirically evaluated despite being popular).  The Kikuyu culture of land inheritance has also bred unabated land subdivision to micro levels that are not viable economically. Poverty levels continue to soar for those whose mainstay is subsistence agriculture while the quality of soils diminishes with overuse and intensification by farmers to meet the required food ration.

 

 

Historical perspectives and Policy debate

The changes in land use reflect its history. Land has been the most important social, political, religious and economic factor for this community, the Agikuyu (African Studies Centre).  Therefore its “ownership, allocation, distribution and utilization (Njuguna and Baya ISK)” is of key interest to all players and decision makers. In a land based economy, the pattern of land distribution is always important indicator of political power (Okoth- Ogendo 1976).

According to Bullock (1965), both sedentary Kikuyu and the European immigrants settled in the land formerly inhabited by the indigenous Wandorobo in the half century following the British penetration. Each indigenous group owned several hunting estates, ranging between 200 and 300 acres.   However, Wandorobo were a nomadic population with little land disturbances to the forests because their main occupation was hunting and gathering. The entrance of the sedentary Kikuyu was determined mostly by the capacity of land to produce crop and availability of rainfall. Missionaries, traders and explorers passed through the district without showing keen interest to settle until later 1890’s.  It was only after the passing of the Crowns Land ordinance of 1902, that land alienation occurred massively. The ordinance prohibited appropriation of land occupied by indigenous people but was later qualified to fit the settlers’ interest and business model.

Njuguna et al argues that the centrality of land in human life was the main reason for the struggle for Kenya’s independence from British colonial rule.  The colonists exerted exogenous shock to the Kikuyu tribal system. According to Sahlins[vii] political power and scarce resources were allocated by family relationships which are referred to as “segmentary lineage system”; the perpetuation and stability of social relations and the attainment of personal goals required the secession of subgroups, expansion out of settled lands, and the settlement of new territories.  This substantiates the fact that there was an abundance of land. In the early twentieth century there were two systems of farming; that if settlers and Europeans existed side by side. The average size of the settler farm in 1905 was 5,488 acres and that of the Kikuyu could not conceivably have exceeded 40 acres (Bates 1987).

 

Before colonialism land in Kenya was communally owned. Each individual had the right of access and use in a manner prescribed by the community. Arguably there was enough land for everybody to farm and extend new fallows sustainably. Therefore individual land ownership was an import of the British from the English Land laws introducing total ownership to the total exclusion of others which was a foreign concept.  According to the Kenya Institute of Surveyors (ISK) this introduced two major problems to land:

  1. Individualization of tenure created landlessness especially in areas where land adjudication and/or consolidation has been implemented.
  2. Individualization of tenure was not practically in some part of the country like the pastoralists zone.

Kenya colonial legacy was one of land alienation and dispossession of entire local communities from their land. However the political realities at independence did not favor a radical land restitution and redistribution programme. The newly independent state diffused a largely political issue of land distribution between the Africans and the Europeans using the neutral language of legal regimes ([viii]Mackenzie, 1998) and Western ideals of free markets. According to KLA the Kenyatta government adopted a cautious market based (free buyer – free seller free market principle) and hybrid system of resettlement which meant that land lost to settlers could not be entirely possessed by government for restitution by government.

Cadastral surveys prior to independence (1963) were done to alienate crown lands at the white highlands according to the adopted English law to facilitate individualization of land and thus security of investment by the settlers.  This explains why Kiambu was more accurately surveyed as opposed to other arid and semi arid areas.  Accurate surveys at the white highlands were done under the provisions of the Survey Ordinance of 1923 and registered under the Registration of Titles Act (RTA) while less accurate surveys on adjudicated and unclaimed land at the coast were done under the provisions of the Land Titles Ordinance of 1908 (Njuki,1999).

Land reforms (Land Consolidation and Adjudication) after 1963 were intended to transform customary land tenure to individual land tenure for Africans in regions currently known as Trust Lands. Cadastral surveys in these places resulted in Demarcation Maps and Registry Index Maps which were used for land registration and titling (Kalande and Odulo, 2011).  Up to date the Kenyan land cadastre system is not optimal due to obvious challenges of funding the technological requirements.

 

Crowns Land Ordinance of 1902 & 1915

The Supreme Court declared Africans as Tenants at Will of the Crown (Okoth-Ogendo, 1991) following the promulgation of the Crown Lands Ordinance Law in 1902. This single piece of legislation set the stage for massive expropriation of land belonging to indigenous people to British settlers and other foreigners who under African customary law would not have been considered.

In 1904 the Land office requested that a line be drawn to separate the inhabited and uninhabited areas (Soja)[ix]. This line was used to govern the parceling out of land to European settlers, thus the policy of land “not effectively” occupied was available for alienation. The line was hastily drawn with little consideration of traditional agriculture or the implications of recent events on the patterns of occupancy on that area. Apart from denying indigenous people their right to land virgin land and forests resources were heavily exploited reducing the forest cover from about 30% in 1900 to 3% in 1963 against the recommended UN minimum of 10% (Ndungu Report).

A land tenure reform was instituted in mid – 1950s to tame Mau Mau political and economic crisis. The essence was slow individualization to “progressive farmers- notably loyalists (Lamb 1974, Lonsdale 1992, Njonjo 1978, Sorrenson 1967). This strategy was devised by RJM Swynnerton leading to the Swynnerton plan (plan to intensify the development of African agriculture in Kenya). The essence of this plan  was to privatize land by displacing indigenous property systems, relations, and modes of production and their replacement with new order after 1925 English Land law. This thinking was firmly advanced by free enterprise economists and is the basis of the current land law regime in Kenya.

Current Land Law Regime in Kenya

Like the Ordinance which gave the governor all the powers regarding disposition of the crowns land, the Act gave the powers to the President and the Commissioner of Lands all the powers to dispose government land and former crowns land. With state as the main landlord and status quo of settlers maintained at independence the fate of the landless and squatters were sealed. CAP 280 PART II Administration sec3 (a) The President, in addition to, but without limiting, any other right, power or authority vested in him under this Act, may subject to any other written law, make grants or dispositions of any estates, interests or rights in or over unalienated government land.

The two main control ACTS on Kenyan land are:

  1. The Land Control Act 302
  2. Physical Planning Act 286

The Physical Planning Act (Cap 286)

This is an Act of 1996 that works through Liaison committees. It is charged with development and implementation of physical development plans for connected purposes. The members of the Liaison committees include the Physical Planner and the other heads of departments and the particular levels. This includes the District Agricultural Officer (DAO) to advice on the government policy on agriculture in the area to be reflected in the decisions of the committee.

The quality of discussions in these committees is inclusiveness and consultation of land. Land use is supposed to follow policy guidelines laid by government. In Kiambu the government policy is to increase coffee production but the reality on the ground is different. This is occasioned by the coordination of District Liaison Committees that evaluate applications for change of user among other things.

The practice is to consult with the heads of departments including the DAO, DEO, DS, DPP, Land officer among others. However minimal consultation is done usually among the three core departments on land; i.e. Physical Planning, Survey and Lands. The input from other heads to streamline policy is minimal.

 

The Land Control Act (Cap 302)

This is the act of parliament that controls transactions on agricultural land (Freehold land). Agricultural land is defined as land that is not within a municipality or a township, or a market and any other land in Nairobi area or municipality, township or urban centre gazetted as agricultural land under the Act. The Act functions through the use of Land Control Boards that sits to deliberate on the transactions requests on agricultural land.

The board consists of District Commissioners, not more than two public officers, two persons nominated by the councils having jurisdiction, and not less than three and not more than seven persons owning land in the area under jurisdiction. And that is replicated in the provincial and national levels with changes to facilitate decision making. One can therefore explain the level of consultations and information exposure for decision making in the boards.

The board grants permissions for sale, transfer, subdivision, mortgage or exchange or any other disposal of agricultural land. In section 9, the board can refuse to grant permission if the intended subdivision will reduce the productivity of the land or the person being transferred to already has sufficient agricultural land.

In part IV of the Act, the president can, through Gazette Notice prohibit any controlled transaction and may exempt any person from the provision of this Act. In the provincial administration the president powers are delegated to the functionaries of the office of state at levels. This effectively creates different centers of power from which land use changes can be controlled from. The influence from the Commissioner of Lands, Office of the President and Land Control Boards are all actors in the land management scene. They are not all privy to the considerations on the ground and neither in consultations with all government departments and private players exposing land to power play.

The power of policing and control is vested on three institutions that are supposed to complement each other:

  1. Commissioner of Lands
  2. The Local Government (Councils) (LR).
  3. Land Control Board

The bulk stops on the functionality of these three policing institutions. One can bypass the other without recourse to represent various interests causing policy confusion.

 

 

National Land Policy

This seeks to harmonize land laws for connectedness seeking to “guide the country towards efficient, sustainable and equitable use of land for prosperity and posterity”. This policy seeks to address land access, land use planning, restitution of historical injustices, and most important for this paper the proliferation of unplanned urban settlements among other issues. This policy sets government in a good path for land use management but that must be updated by the realities and future development while appreciating history. The government must invest in research into proper management laws and practices to guide its drafting of guidelines to give credence to the policy document.

Land Tenure

Mugabe (2006) describes Tenure as the social relations between people in respect of land.Tenure define the method through which these people acquire, hold and transfer property rights.  Land Tenure provides the legal and normative framework within which all agricultural land as well as other economic activities is realized. Land in Kenya is categorized into three major tenure types; government land (public tenure), trust land (communal tenure) and private land (individual tenure) and they comprise of 10%, 70% and 20% respectively of the total land in Kenya (Mwenda, 2001).

The other categorization is broadly two systems under the English common laws and traditional customary law. They have over the years been legislated through a body of law including Government Land Act (Cap 280), Registered Land Act (Cap 300), Trust Land Act (Cap 288), and Registration of Titles Act (Cap 281). However in the ongoing land reforms there are new Land Acts that were passed into law on 27th April 2012. The National Land Commission Act 2012 empowers the National Land Commission powers to give effect the principles of devolved government in the new constitution. The Land Registration Act 2012 effectively repeals The Indian Transfer of Property Act 1882, The Government Lands Act, (Cap 280), The Registration of Titles Act (Cap 281), The Land Titles Act (Cap 282) and The Registered Land Act (Cap 300) (Ministry of Lands). The third new law is The Land Act 2012 which effects article 68 of the new constitution to revise consolidate and rational land laws that have been characteristic complex and reactionary. This law repeals This Act repeals; The Wayleaves Act (Cap 292) and The Land Acquisition Act (Cap 295).

People adopt various Land use systems depending on their economic, social and cultural needs and practices which are in turn shaped by climatic conditions, soil types and their level of social mobility. The policies adopted should therefore be seen to achieve among other things maximum potential and practical land use without endangering the future generations. The policies should ensure equitable access to all people especially the low income and vulnerable groups.  The policy should harmonize the county ambitions, government policy and objectives with the land management practice. The government policy in Kiambu according to the DAO and spelt out in the DDP 2008 is to increase coffee production and peri-urban agriculture. This should be supported by the practice through the District Liaison Committee as a major consideration when they approve change of user from agricultural land to other uses.

 

Land use and Demographic patterns

The following charts illustrate the land use distribution and occupation structure as envisioned in vision 2030 extrapolated from the current trends. It’s important to note the open spaces as 17% in Figure 1 as compared to 30% of the population that relies on agriculture as their mainstay in Kiambu district.

Figure 1: Nairobi Metropolitan (I think this is the source)

 

Figure 2: Nairobi Metropolitan

Settlements patterns according to administrative zones

Division Area (sq. km²) Population Density
Kiambu Municipality 99.4 724 71,925
Kiambaa 91.1 1,275 116,127
Limuru 155.5 577.9 89,870
Ndeiya 125.2 189.4 23,708
Githunguri 175.2 779.4 136,554
Lari 441.1 252.3 111,302
Kikuyu 236.4 822.8 194,521
Total 1,323.9 562 744,010

 

Source: DDP

The population of the district in the 2009 census was 744,010 persons giving a population density of 500 persons / km2 . Due to this the land pressure is high and average farm size is as low as 0.8 Ha thus the intensification of farm use. The southern Kiambu is more densely populated with the city influence more biting than the northern part. Despite of the area being flat and very productive, the historical circumstances of settlement and the ensuing politics at independence have contributed to the current scenario. After the Ordinance Law of 1902 the British froze Kikuyu boundaries and created forest reserves in Muguga, Dagorreti and other forest reserves that could have otherwise absorbed the excess population while migration was halted (Bullock 1974). The huge tracts of alienated land created a wedge that is evident to date between high density zones, low farm sizes and fewer estates and low density zones with big farm sizes and many big estates. This could have been corrected at independence but it didn’t happen.

A casual check at the Land Physical planning office reveals that change of user is happening at a very fast rate (an opportunity for future research). It demonstrates a rising number of conversions responding to the growth demand of the city.

Year Number of requests for change of user
2011 203
2010 182
2009 136
2008 106

 

Table: Rate of Change of user from Agricultural to Mixed user and Housing developments 2012

Source: Data from an Interview with Kiambu District Physical Planning Office

A key explanation for this kind of changes in land use is gradual disinvestment in the farm operation due to recognition that long term prospects for farming are limited in light of local growth and development called Negative adaptation. In Europe, governments engage in policy designed to maintain the landscape and rural land on the fringes of cities. While this is a costly affair the maintenance of rural landscape is an important and highly supported social goal in many European nations.[x]

 

Kiambu is far from food sufficiency. In the DALEO annual report 2002, Kiambu maize production is estimated at 20 bags/Ha. The district constantly records a deficit in production due to among other factors low soil fertility from overuse. The supply gap is filled by supplies from other districts. This understates the need for more strategic thinking with the future in mind.

 

Why preserve farmlands?

This section will attempt to show the trend of farmlands loss in the county. It will highlight the effects and opportunity cost of land conversion. We argue for conserving prime agricultural land to achieve two objectives; (i) eliminate or at best minimize interference with other encroachments and land uses, (ii) avoid development on agricultural land that precludes return of that land to agricultural uses.

Over 90 % of the land in Kiambu is arable (DDP 2002-2008) apart from Ndeiya and parts of Kikuyu division (Karai Location) that are semi-arid and leads poverty levels within the county.  Negative consequences with conversion of farmland include loses in food production, environmental benefits, and social benefits. Every county must look at its engines of growth to keep them relevant and sustainable.

Soils in Kiambu range from moderately fertile to highly fertile dark red clay, volcanic, weathered and dark brown loams (Jaetzol and schimdt, 1884). The uplands to the west are most fertile declining towards the east. Its location, climate and good soils have made it very lucrative agricultural district in the country. Farms range between 0.3 ha to over 1000ha. However due to intensification and soil over use the soils value is changing. The environment is changing with the area being built up, natural vegetation denuded and the natural balance is upset. Real Estate offers more reliable returns and thus a major competitor to farming.  (Slow down in agricultural growth) 20% of Kenya arable land mass has become over populated and overstretched agriculturally (Karugu 2006)[xi].

Dependable farmland is a finite resource in any country. When farmlands are converted for other uses it is for all intents and purposes permanently lost to agriculture. Therefore the Preservation of agricultural lands hedges the country against reliance from outside and against future uncertainties. It is therefore a strategic human security issue to preserve land. “Some argue that an unregulated land market would result in the most efficient use of land because property owners are best able to determine the appropriate use of their land. This is true only if owners face up to all their marginal social costs. But markets do not operate in an ideal way and so they are imperfect. The purpose of government intervention in the market is to offset many conditions causing inefficiencies” (Nelson 1992)[xii]

A major cause of population growth in Kiambu District has been the migration of people from other districts to the urban areas of the district. The high population growth rate has put pressure on the limited natural resources and infrastructural facilities available in the district. Population growth in Kiambu has further led to the subdivision of land into small and uneconomic units thus hampering development in the rural areas, especially in the agricultural sector. This has increased demand for forest land, which people perceive as idle.

The great demand for land has increased the number of land buying speculators and squatters resulting in drastic appreciation in the value of land. The high population increase is a challenge to the environment, soil erosion and lowering the water table and cutting more trees for food production.  Food demand has increased due to population growth and with the continuous subdivision of land and change of land use food security has been threatened.

The change of land use has reduced production in the coffee sub sector where Kabete / Muguga and Dagoretti / Karai coffee society have been affected. Slums have also cropped up hampering administration of a well coordinated urban land planning and development.

A combination of incentive zoning, contextual zoning and special districts techniques have been used to make zoning a more responsive and sensitive planning tool.  Negotiating future land uses by all stakeholders. The scarce resource that land is has become a venture. There is need for tools to balance interests of all stakeholders and land planning is such a tool. Power gaps modify the role of land use planning and increase its significance. The central pre requisite for any spatial planning is social, ecological and economic sustainability.

Farmland preservation in a holistic manner: Programme effectiveness, legality, equity and political feasibility.  Preservation techniques include agricultural zoning, large-lot zoning, fixed- area based zoning, slide-scale zoning, cluster zoning, urban growth Boundaries (UGBs) Purchase of Development Rights (PDRs),Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs), conservation easements, smart Growth Programs, use-valuation taxation, and agricultural districting (Gregory 1999).

Social dynamics of agricultural intensification; Its measured by total output area per unit area, frequency of cultivation, use of agricultural technologies and implements, and investments in labor – intensive soil and water conservation measures (Kates et al. 1993). This is the most popular response to the tremendous population explosion and reduced farm sizes. This increases crop yields through use of high yielding crops, fertilization, irrigation and pesticides. However this alters the biotic interactions and patterns of resource in the ecosystems with serious environmental consequences (Matson et al 1997). This may lead to growing inequality, marginalization of the poor and environmental degradation.

 

Way Forward

The supply of serviced land developed during any given time period should be employed to its highest and best use, unless welfare, health, safety, historic preservations, and environmental considerations dictate otherwise.  A more compact development strategy and promoting redevelopment would be more consistent with strategies that discourage unnecessary conversion of agricultural land to non agricultural uses (World Bank 1999). [xiii]

Government must of necessity invest in research in this area borrowing best practices to avoid making permanent mistakes in its growth path. The National Land Policy must be followed by legislation that is backed by research to force government and its people make painful decisions. This will secure the future of its generations in terms of food security and other ecological and cultural benefits referenced in this chapter on the premise that saving prime arable land is an investment in community infrastructure and economic development.

The most current debate on urban land markets lean towards security of tenure and its integration in the formal economy with a bias to housing the poor (Hendricks 2008, Durrand -Lasserve 2005, Payne 2005 and Rakodi 2005).  This chapter  on the effects of the sprawling city to the urban- rural fringes and the conversion of agricultural land to other uses permanently. A strong growth management law needs to be put in place to reflect government policy taking lessons from other countries that have walked the path.

[i] R.A Houghton (1994) The Worldwide Extent  of Land Use changes Bio Science, Vol.44, No. 5, Global Impact Of Land – Cover Change (Maym 1994), pp. 305-313 American Institute of Biological sciences http:/www.jstor.org/stable/1312380

[ii] Natural Resources Institute and Kwame Nkurumah University of Science and Technology

[iii] Farmlandinfo.org

[iv] The perils of Land Tenure Reform – the case of Kenya Okoth Ogendo

[v] Schubert, jon (2005). Political Ecology in Development Research. An introductory overview and annotated Bibliography. Bern, NCCR Noth – South

[vi] Walter Oyugi (2000) Politicised Ethnics Conflict in Kenya: A periodic phenomenon  Addis Ababa

[vii] Marshall D. Sahlins in Bates, Robert H. (1987) The Agrarian Origins of Mau Mau: a structural account. Agrarian History 61, no, 1:1-28

[viii]  Mackenzie Fiona (1998) Land, Ecology and Resistance in Kenya, 1880 – 1952

[ix] The Geography of Modernization in Kenya: A Spartial analysis of social

[x][x] http://www.farmfoundation.org/news/articles/816-libby.pdf

[xi] Karugu (2006) An assessment of the effects of technology transfer on gender roles within a community. Working paper series 44

[xii] Nelson 1992 as quoted in Gregory S. Halich (1999) Equity Issues in Farmland Preservation (unpublished) scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-042599-183128/unrestricted/frmpr2.pdf

[xiii] World Bank Country Study: China; Urban Land Management in an emerging market economy (1999)

References

Thomas smucker (2002) Land tenure reform and changes in Land use and Land management in semi arid tharaka, Kenya. Land use change impacts and dynamics (LUCID Project working paper 11, Kenya ILRI.

Matson, Et al (1997) Agricultural Intensification and Ecosystem Properties Science 25 no 5325 pp 504-509

Okoth-Ogendo ( undated) The perils of land tenure reform: the case of Kenya

Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

Kiambu District Strategic Plan 2005 – 2010

Bullock R,A. (1974) Subsistence to Cash: Economic change in rural Kiambu Cahiers detudes africaines Volume   14    Issue 56 pp. 699-714

Bullock R,A. (1965)

 

The dynamics of land use changes in Kiambu County

Gachunia, S. N.

Introduction

Kiambu County boasts of 60.8 % urbanization compared to the Kenyan average of 29.9% (Kenya: County fact sheet) of which 90% is classified as arable land. This county is a perfect rural – urban interface whose production, consumption and mobility are fast changing. The purpose of deliberate land-use changes is to increase local capacity of lands to support the human enterprise, but to the contrary many land use practices instead reduces this capacity (Houghton 1994)[i].  This chapter posits that since the change happening on land is irreversible, a futuristic and strong management law is required to facilitate a regulated land market economy, where planning, legal and regulatory institutions, taxation and information infrastructure is functional and up to date.

The plush agricultural land is quickly giving way to blocks of flats and other residential uses. Kiambu’s close proximity to the CBD makes it an attractive bedroom town as opposed to its traditional status as a rural county whose mainstay was coffee and subsistence farming. Despite the huge potential of Peri-urban agriculture, those huge changes that are experienced so far have caused increased vulnerability for the poor, rather than an indication of the potential created by proximity to the city[ii]. This chapter acknowledges the pressure on land near the city to accommodate growth. However, conserving prime agricultural land in counties is very strategic because it is a finite and irreplaceable natural resource. Its contribution to the county should not only be measured by monetary value but also culturally and ecologically. Among the benefits that are irreplaceable include cultural heritage, clean air, and underground water recharging and carbon sequestration.[iii]

Kiambu as a rural–urban interface is subject to a wide range of transformations and flows that originate outside its domain (ALLEN, 2010). There are complex forces driving conversion of land. These conversions exerts pressure on the county‘s resources like land fills, water, sewage, transport infrastructure in an unprecedented manner. It also poses a challenge to the original owners, classified as the urban poor. The urban poor have become increasingly vulnerable and risk being pushed further into the periphery. The original owners find themselves in new circumstances that they are ill prepared to adapt. This is testament to an emergence of glaring economic disparities, redistribution of political power, and the disequilibration of social cultural institutions (Okoth- Ogendo)[iv] .

 

The heritage value of land gives the state and the citizenry the right and duty to ensure that no one individual or community can use the land in a manner that is detrimental to the present and future generations (KLA 2004). The unscrupulous land subdivision and conversion of arable land from agricultural uses to other is encroaching into a finite resource that is farmland. This has a direct relationship with current and future food security and pressure on infrastructure that increasingly marginalizes the urban poor and reduces the quality of life for all. This has prompted this book chapter to review the following fundamental aspects of land dynamics in the county by examining land use patterns in historical and social context.

Theoretical Underpinning

Political ecology perspective as a theoretical and methodological approach can help clarify dynamics of tenure changes, implication of changing land uses and the social dimensions especially on the impact on rural-urban poor. Political ecology explores changing resource access and use as imbedded within power relations. Political ecological perspectives contribute to a critical understanding of the intersection between resource management, development and poverty (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987).

Political Ecology gained credence in the 1980’s as a relatively new field of research that analyses the interaction between humans and the environment. It is also defined as concerns of ecology and a broadly defined political economy (ibid). They underpin political ecological approach through analysis of various land use forms in different countries in a historical perspective.

It deals with the following key questions: (i) how both nature and societal structures determine each other and shape access to natural resources; (ii) how constructed concepts of society and nature determine human environment interactions; (iii) the connections between access to, and control over resources and environmental change; and (iv) the social outcomes of environmental change (Schubert, 2005)[v].

In their seminal work “Land Degradation and Society” Blaikie and Brookfield (1987) developed a new conceptual framework to analyze land degradation on the basis of causal chains between the land managers  and their land, other land users, groups in the wider society who affect them, the state and ultimately the global economy. They linked Soil erosion to work of colonialists’ exploitation as opposed to over exploitation by African farmers.

Kiambu County being a land based economy traces its politics and social struggles to land access and administration over the years. Land settlement patterns have their roots in the history of land alienation that bundled the indigenous Kikuyu to villages with small plots of land. On the other hand Kiambu being squarely in the white highlands with good arable land had its good share of alienated land by settlers.

Unfortunately the policy that the Kenyatta government adopted meant that land that belonged to the people was lost forever. The president adopted the market based policies of free buyer free seller which were supported by the British- World Bank and Settlers Transfer Fund Schemes (STFS). This policy was biased to favor the rich clique who “using the economic and political leverage (Oyugi 2000)[vi]” at their disposal bought and maintained those farms through succession which have become the lucrative new frontiers of Real Estate in Kiambu.

As we analyze the historical perspective we connect the link of land alienation, unsustainable land subdivision, and deforestation and to the policies adopted by Colonial government and exacerbated through bad policy by the successive administrations as demonstrated in the Ndung’u report. For example the forest cover in Kenya decreased from 30% in the 1900 to 3% in 1963 at independence less than the 10% recommended by the United Nations (UN).

The arguments extended by Swynnerton as discussed in this chapter laid down the ground rules that has defined land tenure in Kenya to date. The Free enterprise economists and planners (Okoth – Ogendo, undated) fronted land individualization and security of tenure as the panacea for underdevelopment as opposed to public control of land uses (the justification of these arguments thought has not been empirically evaluated despite being popular).  The Kikuyu culture of land inheritance has also bred unabated land subdivision to micro levels that are not viable economically. Poverty levels continue to soar for those whose mainstay is subsistence agriculture while the quality of soils diminishes with overuse and intensification by farmers to meet the required food ration.

 

 

Historical perspectives and Policy debate

The changes in land use reflect its history. Land has been the most important social, political, religious and economic factor for this community, the Agikuyu (African Studies Centre).  Therefore its “ownership, allocation, distribution and utilization (Njuguna and Baya ISK)” is of key interest to all players and decision makers. In a land based economy, the pattern of land distribution is always important indicator of political power (Okoth- Ogendo 1976).

According to Bullock (1965), both sedentary Kikuyu and the European immigrants settled in the land formerly inhabited by the indigenous Wandorobo in the half century following the British penetration. Each indigenous group owned several hunting estates, ranging between 200 and 300 acres.   However, Wandorobo were a nomadic population with little land disturbances to the forests because their main occupation was hunting and gathering. The entrance of the sedentary Kikuyu was determined mostly by the capacity of land to produce crop and availability of rainfall. Missionaries, traders and explorers passed through the district without showing keen interest to settle until later 1890’s.  It was only after the passing of the Crowns Land ordinance of 1902, that land alienation occurred massively. The ordinance prohibited appropriation of land occupied by indigenous people but was later qualified to fit the settlers’ interest and business model.

Njuguna et al argues that the centrality of land in human life was the main reason for the struggle for Kenya’s independence from British colonial rule.  The colonists exerted exogenous shock to the Kikuyu tribal system. According to Sahlins[vii] political power and scarce resources were allocated by family relationships which are referred to as “segmentary lineage system”; the perpetuation and stability of social relations and the attainment of personal goals required the secession of subgroups, expansion out of settled lands, and the settlement of new territories.  This substantiates the fact that there was an abundance of land. In the early twentieth century there were two systems of farming; that if settlers and Europeans existed side by side. The average size of the settler farm in 1905 was 5,488 acres and that of the Kikuyu could not conceivably have exceeded 40 acres (Bates 1987).

 

Before colonialism land in Kenya was communally owned. Each individual had the right of access and use in a manner prescribed by the community. Arguably there was enough land for everybody to farm and extend new fallows sustainably. Therefore individual land ownership was an import of the British from the English Land laws introducing total ownership to the total exclusion of others which was a foreign concept.  According to the Kenya Institute of Surveyors (ISK) this introduced two major problems to land:

  1. Individualization of tenure created landlessness especially in areas where land adjudication and/or consolidation has been implemented.
  2. Individualization of tenure was not practically in some part of the country like the pastoralists zone.

Kenya colonial legacy was one of land alienation and dispossession of entire local communities from their land. However the political realities at independence did not favor a radical land restitution and redistribution programme. The newly independent state diffused a largely political issue of land distribution between the Africans and the Europeans using the neutral language of legal regimes ([viii]Mackenzie, 1998) and Western ideals of free markets. According to KLA the Kenyatta government adopted a cautious market based (free buyer – free seller free market principle) and hybrid system of resettlement which meant that land lost to settlers could not be entirely possessed by government for restitution by government.

Cadastral surveys prior to independence (1963) were done to alienate crown lands at the white highlands according to the adopted English law to facilitate individualization of land and thus security of investment by the settlers.  This explains why Kiambu was more accurately surveyed as opposed to other arid and semi arid areas.  Accurate surveys at the white highlands were done under the provisions of the Survey Ordinance of 1923 and registered under the Registration of Titles Act (RTA) while less accurate surveys on adjudicated and unclaimed land at the coast were done under the provisions of the Land Titles Ordinance of 1908 (Njuki,1999).

Land reforms (Land Consolidation and Adjudication) after 1963 were intended to transform customary land tenure to individual land tenure for Africans in regions currently known as Trust Lands. Cadastral surveys in these places resulted in Demarcation Maps and Registry Index Maps which were used for land registration and titling (Kalande and Odulo, 2011).  Up to date the Kenyan land cadastre system is not optimal due to obvious challenges of funding the technological requirements.

 

Crowns Land Ordinance of 1902 & 1915

The Supreme Court declared Africans as Tenants at Will of the Crown (Okoth-Ogendo, 1991) following the promulgation of the Crown Lands Ordinance Law in 1902. This single piece of legislation set the stage for massive expropriation of land belonging to indigenous people to British settlers and other foreigners who under African customary law would not have been considered.

In 1904 the Land office requested that a line be drawn to separate the inhabited and uninhabited areas (Soja)[ix]. This line was used to govern the parceling out of land to European settlers, thus the policy of land “not effectively” occupied was available for alienation. The line was hastily drawn with little consideration of traditional agriculture or the implications of recent events on the patterns of occupancy on that area. Apart from denying indigenous people their right to land virgin land and forests resources were heavily exploited reducing the forest cover from about 30% in 1900 to 3% in 1963 against the recommended UN minimum of 10% (Ndungu Report).

A land tenure reform was instituted in mid – 1950s to tame Mau Mau political and economic crisis. The essence was slow individualization to “progressive farmers- notably loyalists (Lamb 1974, Lonsdale 1992, Njonjo 1978, Sorrenson 1967). This strategy was devised by RJM Swynnerton leading to the Swynnerton plan (plan to intensify the development of African agriculture in Kenya). The essence of this plan  was to privatize land by displacing indigenous property systems, relations, and modes of production and their replacement with new order after 1925 English Land law. This thinking was firmly advanced by free enterprise economists and is the basis of the current land law regime in Kenya.

Current Land Law Regime in Kenya

Like the Ordinance which gave the governor all the powers regarding disposition of the crowns land, the Act gave the powers to the President and the Commissioner of Lands all the powers to dispose government land and former crowns land. With state as the main landlord and status quo of settlers maintained at independence the fate of the landless and squatters were sealed. CAP 280 PART II Administration sec3 (a) The President, in addition to, but without limiting, any other right, power or authority vested in him under this Act, may subject to any other written law, make grants or dispositions of any estates, interests or rights in or over unalienated government land.

The two main control ACTS on Kenyan land are:

  1. The Land Control Act 302
  2. Physical Planning Act 286

The Physical Planning Act (Cap 286)

This is an Act of 1996 that works through Liaison committees. It is charged with development and implementation of physical development plans for connected purposes. The members of the Liaison committees include the Physical Planner and the other heads of departments and the particular levels. This includes the District Agricultural Officer (DAO) to advice on the government policy on agriculture in the area to be reflected in the decisions of the committee.

The quality of discussions in these committees is inclusiveness and consultation of land. Land use is supposed to follow policy guidelines laid by government. In Kiambu the government policy is to increase coffee production but the reality on the ground is different. This is occasioned by the coordination of District Liaison Committees that evaluate applications for change of user among other things.

The practice is to consult with the heads of departments including the DAO, DEO, DS, DPP, Land officer among others. However minimal consultation is done usually among the three core departments on land; i.e. Physical Planning, Survey and Lands. The input from other heads to streamline policy is minimal.

 

The Land Control Act (Cap 302)

This is the act of parliament that controls transactions on agricultural land (Freehold land). Agricultural land is defined as land that is not within a municipality or a township, or a market and any other land in Nairobi area or municipality, township or urban centre gazetted as agricultural land under the Act. The Act functions through the use of Land Control Boards that sits to deliberate on the transactions requests on agricultural land.

The board consists of District Commissioners, not more than two public officers, two persons nominated by the councils having jurisdiction, and not less than three and not more than seven persons owning land in the area under jurisdiction. And that is replicated in the provincial and national levels with changes to facilitate decision making. One can therefore explain the level of consultations and information exposure for decision making in the boards.

The board grants permissions for sale, transfer, subdivision, mortgage or exchange or any other disposal of agricultural land. In section 9, the board can refuse to grant permission if the intended subdivision will reduce the productivity of the land or the person being transferred to already has sufficient agricultural land.

In part IV of the Act, the president can, through Gazette Notice prohibit any controlled transaction and may exempt any person from the provision of this Act. In the provincial administration the president powers are delegated to the functionaries of the office of state at levels. This effectively creates different centers of power from which land use changes can be controlled from. The influence from the Commissioner of Lands, Office of the President and Land Control Boards are all actors in the land management scene. They are not all privy to the considerations on the ground and neither in consultations with all government departments and private players exposing land to power play.

The power of policing and control is vested on three institutions that are supposed to complement each other:

  1. Commissioner of Lands
  2. The Local Government (Councils) (LR).
  3. Land Control Board

The bulk stops on the functionality of these three policing institutions. One can bypass the other without recourse to represent various interests causing policy confusion.

 

 

National Land Policy

This seeks to harmonize land laws for connectedness seeking to “guide the country towards efficient, sustainable and equitable use of land for prosperity and posterity”. This policy seeks to address land access, land use planning, restitution of historical injustices, and most important for this paper the proliferation of unplanned urban settlements among other issues. This policy sets government in a good path for land use management but that must be updated by the realities and future development while appreciating history. The government must invest in research into proper management laws and practices to guide its drafting of guidelines to give credence to the policy document.

Land Tenure

Mugabe (2006) describes Tenure as the social relations between people in respect of land.Tenure define the method through which these people acquire, hold and transfer property rights.  Land Tenure provides the legal and normative framework within which all agricultural land as well as other economic activities is realized. Land in Kenya is categorized into three major tenure types; government land (public tenure), trust land (communal tenure) and private land (individual tenure) and they comprise of 10%, 70% and 20% respectively of the total land in Kenya (Mwenda, 2001).

The other categorization is broadly two systems under the English common laws and traditional customary law. They have over the years been legislated through a body of law including Government Land Act (Cap 280), Registered Land Act (Cap 300), Trust Land Act (Cap 288), and Registration of Titles Act (Cap 281). However in the ongoing land reforms there are new Land Acts that were passed into law on 27th April 2012. The National Land Commission Act 2012 empowers the National Land Commission powers to give effect the principles of devolved government in the new constitution. The Land Registration Act 2012 effectively repeals The Indian Transfer of Property Act 1882, The Government Lands Act, (Cap 280), The Registration of Titles Act (Cap 281), The Land Titles Act (Cap 282) and The Registered Land Act (Cap 300) (Ministry of Lands). The third new law is The Land Act 2012 which effects article 68 of the new constitution to revise consolidate and rational land laws that have been characteristic complex and reactionary. This law repeals This Act repeals; The Wayleaves Act (Cap 292) and The Land Acquisition Act (Cap 295).

People adopt various Land use systems depending on their economic, social and cultural needs and practices which are in turn shaped by climatic conditions, soil types and their level of social mobility. The policies adopted should therefore be seen to achieve among other things maximum potential and practical land use without endangering the future generations. The policies should ensure equitable access to all people especially the low income and vulnerable groups.  The policy should harmonize the county ambitions, government policy and objectives with the land management practice. The government policy in Kiambu according to the DAO and spelt out in the DDP 2008 is to increase coffee production and peri-urban agriculture. This should be supported by the practice through the District Liaison Committee as a major consideration when they approve change of user from agricultural land to other uses.

 

Land use and Demographic patterns

The following charts illustrate the land use distribution and occupation structure as envisioned in vision 2030 extrapolated from the current trends. It’s important to note the open spaces as 17% in Figure 1 as compared to 30% of the population that relies on agriculture as their mainstay in Kiambu district.

Figure 1: Nairobi Metropolitan (I think this is the source)

 

Figure 2: Nairobi Metropolitan

Settlements patterns according to administrative zones

Division Area (sq. km²) Population Density
Kiambu Municipality 99.4 724 71,925
Kiambaa 91.1 1,275 116,127
Limuru 155.5 577.9 89,870
Ndeiya 125.2 189.4 23,708
Githunguri 175.2 779.4 136,554
Lari 441.1 252.3 111,302
Kikuyu 236.4 822.8 194,521
Total 1,323.9 562 744,010

 

Source: DDP

The population of the district in the 2009 census was 744,010 persons giving a population density of 500 persons / km2 . Due to this the land pressure is high and average farm size is as low as 0.8 Ha thus the intensification of farm use. The southern Kiambu is more densely populated with the city influence more biting than the northern part. Despite of the area being flat and very productive, the historical circumstances of settlement and the ensuing politics at independence have contributed to the current scenario. After the Ordinance Law of 1902 the British froze Kikuyu boundaries and created forest reserves in Muguga, Dagorreti and other forest reserves that could have otherwise absorbed the excess population while migration was halted (Bullock 1974). The huge tracts of alienated land created a wedge that is evident to date between high density zones, low farm sizes and fewer estates and low density zones with big farm sizes and many big estates. This could have been corrected at independence but it didn’t happen.

A casual check at the Land Physical planning office reveals that change of user is happening at a very fast rate (an opportunity for future research). It demonstrates a rising number of conversions responding to the growth demand of the city.

Year Number of requests for change of user
2011 203
2010 182
2009 136
2008 106

 

Table: Rate of Change of user from Agricultural to Mixed user and Housing developments 2012

Source: Data from an Interview with Kiambu District Physical Planning Office

A key explanation for this kind of changes in land use is gradual disinvestment in the farm operation due to recognition that long term prospects for farming are limited in light of local growth and development called Negative adaptation. In Europe, governments engage in policy designed to maintain the landscape and rural land on the fringes of cities. While this is a costly affair the maintenance of rural landscape is an important and highly supported social goal in many European nations.[x]

 

Kiambu is far from food sufficiency. In the DALEO annual report 2002, Kiambu maize production is estimated at 20 bags/Ha. The district constantly records a deficit in production due to among other factors low soil fertility from overuse. The supply gap is filled by supplies from other districts. This understates the need for more strategic thinking with the future in mind.

 

Why preserve farmlands?

This section will attempt to show the trend of farmlands loss in the county. It will highlight the effects and opportunity cost of land conversion. We argue for conserving prime agricultural land to achieve two objectives; (i) eliminate or at best minimize interference with other encroachments and land uses, (ii) avoid development on agricultural land that precludes return of that land to agricultural uses.

Over 90 % of the land in Kiambu is arable (DDP 2002-2008) apart from Ndeiya and parts of Kikuyu division (Karai Location) that are semi-arid and leads poverty levels within the county.  Negative consequences with conversion of farmland include loses in food production, environmental benefits, and social benefits. Every county must look at its engines of growth to keep them relevant and sustainable.

Soils in Kiambu range from moderately fertile to highly fertile dark red clay, volcanic, weathered and dark brown loams (Jaetzol and schimdt, 1884). The uplands to the west are most fertile declining towards the east. Its location, climate and good soils have made it very lucrative agricultural district in the country. Farms range between 0.3 ha to over 1000ha. However due to intensification and soil over use the soils value is changing. The environment is changing with the area being built up, natural vegetation denuded and the natural balance is upset. Real Estate offers more reliable returns and thus a major competitor to farming.  (Slow down in agricultural growth) 20% of Kenya arable land mass has become over populated and overstretched agriculturally (Karugu 2006)[xi].

Dependable farmland is a finite resource in any country. When farmlands are converted for other uses it is for all intents and purposes permanently lost to agriculture. Therefore the Preservation of agricultural lands hedges the country against reliance from outside and against future uncertainties. It is therefore a strategic human security issue to preserve land. “Some argue that an unregulated land market would result in the most efficient use of land because property owners are best able to determine the appropriate use of their land. This is true only if owners face up to all their marginal social costs. But markets do not operate in an ideal way and so they are imperfect. The purpose of government intervention in the market is to offset many conditions causing inefficiencies” (Nelson 1992)[xii]

A major cause of population growth in Kiambu District has been the migration of people from other districts to the urban areas of the district. The high population growth rate has put pressure on the limited natural resources and infrastructural facilities available in the district. Population growth in Kiambu has further led to the subdivision of land into small and uneconomic units thus hampering development in the rural areas, especially in the agricultural sector. This has increased demand for forest land, which people perceive as idle.

The great demand for land has increased the number of land buying speculators and squatters resulting in drastic appreciation in the value of land. The high population increase is a challenge to the environment, soil erosion and lowering the water table and cutting more trees for food production.  Food demand has increased due to population growth and with the continuous subdivision of land and change of land use food security has been threatened.

The change of land use has reduced production in the coffee sub sector where Kabete / Muguga and Dagoretti / Karai coffee society have been affected. Slums have also cropped up hampering administration of a well coordinated urban land planning and development.

A combination of incentive zoning, contextual zoning and special districts techniques have been used to make zoning a more responsive and sensitive planning tool.  Negotiating future land uses by all stakeholders. The scarce resource that land is has become a venture. There is need for tools to balance interests of all stakeholders and land planning is such a tool. Power gaps modify the role of land use planning and increase its significance. The central pre requisite for any spatial planning is social, ecological and economic sustainability.

Farmland preservation in a holistic manner: Programme effectiveness, legality, equity and political feasibility.  Preservation techniques include agricultural zoning, large-lot zoning, fixed- area based zoning, slide-scale zoning, cluster zoning, urban growth Boundaries (UGBs) Purchase of Development Rights (PDRs),Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs), conservation easements, smart Growth Programs, use-valuation taxation, and agricultural districting (Gregory 1999).

Social dynamics of agricultural intensification; Its measured by total output area per unit area, frequency of cultivation, use of agricultural technologies and implements, and investments in labor – intensive soil and water conservation measures (Kates et al. 1993). This is the most popular response to the tremendous population explosion and reduced farm sizes. This increases crop yields through use of high yielding crops, fertilization, irrigation and pesticides. However this alters the biotic interactions and patterns of resource in the ecosystems with serious environmental consequences (Matson et al 1997). This may lead to growing inequality, marginalization of the poor and environmental degradation.

 

Way Forward

The supply of serviced land developed during any given time period should be employed to its highest and best use, unless welfare, health, safety, historic preservations, and environmental considerations dictate otherwise.  A more compact development strategy and promoting redevelopment would be more consistent with strategies that discourage unnecessary conversion of agricultural land to non agricultural uses (World Bank 1999). [xiii]

Government must of necessity invest in research in this area borrowing best practices to avoid making permanent mistakes in its growth path. The National Land Policy must be followed by legislation that is backed by research to force government and its people make painful decisions. This will secure the future of its generations in terms of food security and other ecological and cultural benefits referenced in this chapter on the premise that saving prime arable land is an investment in community infrastructure and economic development.

The most current debate on urban land markets lean towards security of tenure and its integration in the formal economy with a bias to housing the poor (Hendricks 2008, Durrand -Lasserve 2005, Payne 2005 and Rakodi 2005).  This chapter  on the effects of the sprawling city to the urban- rural fringes and the conversion of agricultural land to other uses permanently. A strong growth management law needs to be put in place to reflect government policy taking lessons from other countries that have walked the path.

[i] R.A Houghton (1994) The Worldwide Extent  of Land Use changes Bio Science, Vol.44, No. 5, Global Impact Of Land – Cover Change (Maym 1994), pp. 305-313 American Institute of Biological sciences http:/www.jstor.org/stable/1312380

[ii] Natural Resources Institute and Kwame Nkurumah University of Science and Technology

[iii] Farmlandinfo.org

[iv] The perils of Land Tenure Reform – the case of Kenya Okoth Ogendo

[v] Schubert, jon (2005). Political Ecology in Development Research. An introductory overview and annotated Bibliography. Bern, NCCR Noth – South

[vi] Walter Oyugi (2000) Politicised Ethnics Conflict in Kenya: A periodic phenomenon  Addis Ababa

[vii] Marshall D. Sahlins in Bates, Robert H. (1987) The Agrarian Origins of Mau Mau: a structural account. Agrarian History 61, no, 1:1-28

[viii]  Mackenzie Fiona (1998) Land, Ecology and Resistance in Kenya, 1880 – 1952

[ix] The Geography of Modernization in Kenya: A Spartial analysis of social

[x][x] http://www.farmfoundation.org/news/articles/816-libby.pdf

[xi] Karugu (2006) An assessment of the effects of technology transfer on gender roles within a community. Working paper series 44

[xii] Nelson 1992 as quoted in Gregory S. Halich (1999) Equity Issues in Farmland Preservation (unpublished) scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-042599-183128/unrestricted/frmpr2.pdf

[xiii] World Bank Country Study: China; Urban Land Management in an emerging market economy (1999)

References

Thomas smucker (2002) Land tenure reform and changes in Land use and Land management in semi arid tharaka, Kenya. Land use change impacts and dynamics (LUCID Project working paper 11, Kenya ILRI.

Matson, Et al (1997) Agricultural Intensification and Ecosystem Properties Science 25 no 5325 pp 504-509

Okoth-Ogendo ( undated) The perils of land tenure reform: the case of Kenya

Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

Kiambu District Strategic Plan 2005 – 2010

Bullock R,A. (1974) Subsistence to Cash: Economic change in rural Kiambu Cahiers detudes africaines Volume   14    Issue 56 pp. 699-714

Bullock R,A. (1965)

V





The Political Education of Senator Amos Wako

23 05 2014

Image

Introduction

The title is borrowed from Paula Broadwell and Vemon Loeb’s autobiography “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus”, that peeps at the USA military through the lenses on one man’s life due to his central position over a lengthy and intense period of time. Senator Amos Wako has gone through a full metamorphosis in the Kenyan political scene straddling the entire spectrum.  He started as  a respected member of the bar working for  Kaplan & Stratton while at the same time being a member of the UN Human Rights Committee until he  was coopted to whitewash the notorious Moi government as an Attorney General a position that he served for 20 years from 13th May 1991 to 26th August 2011. Wako oversaw what may simply be the worst decades of the nation’s conscience with a nefarious distinction. He possesses that rare experience, wit and intellect that made him the institutional bona fide legal custodian of the Moi regime that made him indispensable, transcending administrations. As the Anglo- Leasing debate goes on ‘ the Surgeon’ as referred by the sitting Attorney General sits pretty having changed tact from the legal lord of our infamous past to the senator of the people of Busia County with the most popular party in the region, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). He boasts of being a custodian of devolution and the new constitution.  States lie and bluff and while at it suck its bureaucrats in the game. The choices individuals make are laced by the normal human foibles described by Stephen Walt as careerism, greed, cowardice or imperfect rationality. This article argues that this turnaround is testament to the short term memory syndrome of the Kenyan electorate and a shallow media incapable of using history in its archives to unclothe the personas behind the fleeting political façade. ….





The coffee curse

9 12 2011

The wrangles between the Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK), the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) and private coffee millers led  the Kenyan Government to publish strict new rules and regulations for the growing, milling and marketing of coffee in what is now a liberalized environment since 1992.

However despite the policy reform in the sector was not harmonized with a legal framework to back it up. This effectively left  the CBK remain the regulatory agency with a tight control of marketing coffee. CBK feels the coffee act supersedes the liberalization rules.

This logic is clear to the bureaucrats since they need to recover their loans from farmers and any abrupt change in the process will leave the board cash trapped. On the other hand the logic of liberalization is clear. The farmer is free to sell their coffee where it fetches them good returns. For once there seems to be  hope in the coffee farming but this wrangle rears its head to cloud the gains made. Its time the government listens to the farmers and the only language that makes sense is good prices that reflects the price their commodities fetch in the global market.

If this does not happen there is no end to the fight, killings and coffee theft in central Kenya. Long gone are the days the chief would whip the farmer if he planted potatoes on the coffee farm since it would spoil the grades. They have gone ahead to uproot the plant and anathema during days past. Lets live the talk of liberalization and face the challenges of its implementation head end to enjoy its gains.





saving doha development round

17 11 2011

Political leaders avoid taking hard decisions unless they are forced to.   This is because hard decisions require sacrifices that are not popular in nature. The negotiators at the multilateral trading organization must rise to the occasion (backed by leaders in their capitals) and break the impasse at the WTO ministerial this December.  A hard dose must be taken to either resuscitate Doha from the decade long coma and if the talks are effectively dead we must seek divinity for a miracle now rather than later.

The main contention between the BRIC and the developed countries in a deadlock has lasted a decade.  The  introduction of  the ‘Singapore issues’ (Trade and investment, on competition policy, and on transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation) continued to grow the agenda list . Developed countries felt that there are more urgent and pertinent issues like the environment that also  needed to be addressed and mainstreamed along the Doha Development Round issues which complicated the negotiations.

The BRIC countries that have risen in stature are offering credible competition, backed by high growth trajectories, against the background of a troubled west.  They have stood their firm ground especially on manufactured goods which is their mainstay in a global economy whose roles are reversing.  The paradox here is that as this tussle continues the countries at the bottom of the pyramid are the net losers with their agricultural issues even the ones agreed on like cotton not likely being implemented as ‘more relevant’ issues take center stage of a development round.

In my opinion leadership will not come from either of these two parties and with reasons.  The west and especially the USA is fussy with opening up their markets bearing in mind the state of their economy. Unemployment under President Obama hit a low of 9% in October, according to the Bureau of labor statistics, this makes it hard to gain consensus in congress over a Doha deal. With the looming elections in the USA and the troubles of the Euro Zone the Doha round fades in importance to these international actors.

The BRIC has the muscle and the stature to give leadership but who will listen? They are not seen by the west as an alternative leadership but a competitor who must be checked at all costs creating more ground for disharmony.  China is seen as an irresponsible world leader who has arrived on the stage but behaving like he has not for expediency, making him a less attractive voice.  These dichotomies of who are the net losers are, is therefore important so that it can inform the capitals of those countries and give impetus to their negotiators.  The World Bank has estimated that a deal could generate £145bn extra trade by 2015, helping to lift some developing countries out of poverty and also end the food crisis gripping low-income countries because of soaring food prices. These Trade Talks were duped Doha Development Round for a reason. They are being resisted for a reason and that is why the countries in the bottom of the pyramid must canvass and do all that is within their power to reach a deal however minimalistic. The alternatives to a deal  are worse off and will turn the WTO into a moribund organization the only platform that has a semblance of democracy in the international system.  Gachunia

 





The Alshabaab Incursion

27 10 2011

For the first time in our life as a nation we have sent our sons to hostilities on an overtly offensive mission on foreign soil. As our gallant soldiers close in on Afmadow against an amorphous faceless outlaw we are restless as a nation.  The state must accurately spell the objectives and draw clear time-lines of this war. This will seal loopholes for international manipulation.

The battle- hardened, US -backed Ethiopia in June 2006 engaged Somalia and rightly so.  Prime Minister Zenawi said, ‘Ethiopian defense forces were forced to enter into war to protect the sovereignty of the nation’. The administration inadvertently promised in January of 2007, that they will pull out in a ‘few weeks’. This ended up being a two year insurgency that ended in misery: The TFG legitimacy waned irreparably, it lost territories including Baidoa and the emboldened Al – Shabaab’s reign of terror was buoyed.

Two matters come to mind that calls for introspection. First is a call to interrogate the nature of the war that we have entered into. It’s a high stakes war playing on an international stage.  War on Terror christened by Obama ‘overseas Contingency Operation’ took shape after 9/11 and has permeated both policy and discourse in the international system.  Kenya has been thrust into the forefront of what the international community hesitated or avoided to do all along; meddle into the murky waters of liberating and democratizing Somalia the only known way to peace, democratic peace.  The west has avoided a protracted war with the militia that is capable of stoking religious and nationalism sentiments whose adherents are willing to blow themselves up in their defense. In that sense the US, UK and NATO would be happy to get a proxy do what they do not want to do but believes needs to get done. In the absence of a very precise, clear and time bound mandate Kenya is very vulnerable, Ethiopia has walked that path before.

Secondly, we cannot afford to analyze the army in Galtung’s distinctions of hard-ware (arms) and soft-ware (manpower) sui – generis as if they were separated from the society.  On one hand the army is capital and labor intensive to say the least. In a struggling economy we have to be careful what we thrust ourselves into and for how long. We have opted to offensively pursue Al-shabaab into the deep of Somalia and that will stoke up our national ego as opposed to defensively secure our borders and create a buffer zone. However for the state to keep the civilian support for the war, we must see rapid results that will compensate for the price that we bear at home.

Though the army lives like a parallel society they are our fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and relatives. Our army is strong, well coordinated but albeit virgin and untested.  Our enemy is an endowed rag tag militia that is faceless and unidentifiable in the battlefield with local and international support.  Body bags would seriously erode the civilian support of the war. The economic burden of the war is potentially a political crisis if it becomes protracted.   We must therefore give our boys all the technical backup, support and capabilities to both fight and secure themselves. They must decapitate the enemy and come back home soonest to avoid the ‘occupation forces tag’.





Fundamentals of a Commodity Exchange in Kenya

12 03 2010

The KCEx was dealt a serious critic from a very unlikely source: Mr Mbithi, the Secretary of the Kenya Coffee Planters and Traders. He said in Business Daily, 11th March,that Kenya lacks the fundamentals to create a strong commodities exchange and that this rush is a reaction to the fever caught from the ECX in the Neighbouring Ethiopia.

We shall evaluate Mr Mbithi’s critisism on its own merits as we establish what those fundamentals are:

Recently Nairobi was upgraded to class B according to the UN ratings, something that did not go down very well with the International staff, however that was a pointer to some milestones that the city have made in terms of security and its capacity to handle international clientele. Being a major business hub is a fundamental that goes for Nairobi in terms of strategic location. Nairobi is a hub in the whole of COMESA region that is heavily agricultural and the exchange would greatly serve the whole region. As the farmers get more professional in preparation for the commodities bourse and more stable due to futures trading, investors and speculators will provide the necessary liquidity that will improve business in the region to world class standards. The Singapore Mercantile Exchange for example rode on its strategic placement and sort to provide a trading floor for the greater Asia and due to their superior infrastructure the country have benefited greatly due to the exchange.

The Nairobi Stock exchange is the key mover in the Commodities exchange  deal. There is already an established infrastructure and a trading floor that is fully automated awaiting the necessary approvals for the bourse to commence.  This is a great milestone. With the heavy capital outlay that ICT companies like Kenya Data networks have invested in laying a Fibre Optic Backbone that is in every major town in Kenya we are making strides. Market information will be  disseminated to the whole country in real time with speed and accuracy. This will decentralize the exchange bringing it closer to the people.

However we lack in the necessary legislation that will safe guard all the players in the Commodities Exchange. It is the purpose of this piece of legislation is to serve the public interests by providing a  system of effective self-regulation of trading facilities, clearing systems, market participants and market professionals. The sensitive of the Futures contract and the level of risk involved demands that before we rush to the floor then we get this legislation in place. Other issues that will require legislation will be the warehouse receipting so that it is done professionaly and the receipts can actually trade like commodities without necessarily physical verification.  These are the things that should preoccupy the house agenda because as former president put it “itaweka ugali kwa meza yako”. I am optmisitc that we have the political goodwill and the necessary intelligence to get this done, albeit the learning opportunity from Ethipia next door. However, it is important that we do not allow all these issues to stop the exchange from happening  but rather hold the bull by the horns and get it done. Kenya ought to lead as one of the biggest economies in the region and having enjoyed a robust international cooperation and peace in a very turbulent region. Our failure to lead does not only affect Kenyans but the whole region.

A commodities Exchange will complement heavily our Stock exchange that is growing very well and completing a competitive  financial ecosystem that is befits a country of Kenya’s stature in the international system. As the drums of a changing foreign policy to one that driven overtly by Kenya’s  economic interests then this should take center stage in terms of research of funding. It is time for the academic to really serve the farmers directly and more proactively. As the trading floor is highly and intellectually stimulating the results will be a robust and profit making agricultural environment that eliminates the thrifty middlemen who buys goods when the prices are low to a more predictable market as one can sell futures long before the crop was harvested and hedge against price drops effectively.  I think the challenges that the commodities exchange are humongous but Kenya have the capacity to handle them. Gachunia





A strong case for KCX (Kenya Commodity Exchange)

6 03 2010

Kenya found itself  caught between a rock and a hard place when it was unable to honor its undertaking to  import  to China coffee worth 1.4 Billion Kenya Shillings. This contract was negotiated and signed two years ago by China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-peratives and KPCU. The minister, Hon Nyaga was at pains to explain and set terms for renegotiation. He sighted lack of ‘follow up’ and the wrangles at KPCU. This mondus operandi while doing international business is laughable in the 21st century to say the least. The age when globalization has come of age, the fibre optic has almost finished its rounds to fully connect the globe, the age of full automation and unparalled efficiency.

It is against this backdrop  that the idea of a fully automated Commodity Exchange being mooted by the NSE should be  explored.  I was actually taken aback that this proposal never caused the excitement i anticipated especially among the disgruntled coffee farmers.  The Kenyan Coffee Lobby if there exists any should and must take this as an indictment.We must appreciate that the powerful cooperative socities that ruled the coffee industry lost their site when the became the nursery for budding politicians. They became springboards especially for  parlimentary candidates in the coffee zones and the powerful directors (more often than not sycophants of the incumbent then) had a say on the national scene ( a topic for another day). That is the only plausibe explanation for the inneficiency, unending selfish interest wars , lack of any technological advancement and a general retardation of marketing in the coffee industry in Kenya for so long. This is a rather obvious outcome when politics (Kenyan style) clogs up the board rooms, the farmer definately gets short changed as the only the interests of the ruling elite makes it to the agenda.

Coffee can either be traded on spot or as futures on the trading or auction floor. At the Commodities exchange, the commodities will not be traded directly, but warehousing receipts will form the basis of what is known as futures trading. This forms trading where a contract is drawn with a pledge from the buyer and seller to make a certain transaction at a future date. In this kind of arrangement, both parties are obligated to honour the contract. This forces the trading parties to fully disclose the transaction details which is disseminated to other interested parties especially farmers.

The case for coffee is stronger in the sense that this Commodities Exchange will demand a serious research into specialty coffee. The source will be acknowledged and rewards paid for the best coffee quality in the market. This will encourage farmers to give more attention to quality as they can see the results of their work first hand as opposed to farmer education that is not backed up by returns and statistics. Ethiopian Exchange will be an institution to watch and learn from especially on their coffee sector. They have gone on a marketing offensive bringing together the whole chain from the farmer, suppliers, millers, roasters and consumers. It is taking accountability and information dissemination to whole new level that Africa markets have not experienced before. This will give the farmer a big voice and motivation to invest in production as it will make business sense. This is the only way to revert the current dwindling production of Coffee in Kenya of such a priced and a valuable commodity while its demand in the world market keeps going up.

The Kenyan farmer deserves more than he is getting from the current wrangling in KPCU and the ministry and the infighting among the key players. As the capacity to process has gone up and production is going down the fight can only get bloody if this is not reversed. Some one needs to crack the whip and get sanity in this once the highest foreign income earner but now lags a mere fourth. This is not incidental but a clearly orchestrated scheme as inneficiency and selfish wars take toll.

Gachunia