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Tegemeo Institute in conjunction with Latin America based Research Institute GRADE has been conducting a study on Land Tenure in Pastoralist Societies. The focus of the collaborative research has been on land governance with an aim of coming up with policy recommendations that can enhance smallholder livelihoods in both the Andean countries and in the East African region. The study conducted in both regions is on Land Tenure in Pastoralist Societies. In Latin America, the study focuses on Peru while in the East African region, Kenya is the case study.

The two regions face challenges arising from land governance and while the context is different for the two countries, there are similarities in the lessons that can be drawn for improving land rights that will enhance smallholder livelihoods, particularly that of pastoralists.

Under the project, each research institution has undertaken a country research paper and jointly, both research centers have conducted a comparative study. The comparative research is based upon the cases of Peru in Latin America and Kenya in East Africa, with some evidence from the other selected countries in both regions.

Based on the Kenyan study, currently, about 67% of land in Kenya is categorised as community land. This land is mostly characterised by arid and semi-arid climatic conditions such as high temperatures and low rainfall. As such, it is largely occupied by pastoral communities who practice livestock keeping under extensive production systems, which is best, suited for these environs. Since the country promulgated the new constitution in 2010, land laws have changed in line with the constitutional requirements. The community land bill has been under discussion since 2012 and although currently in parliament, the debate over certain clauses in the bill is yet to be resolved. The Tegemeo study examines the evolution of collective land regimes in East Africa and how it affects the communities that live on community land. More specifically, the study looks at drivers and reasons behind the changes in collective land access and how the communities that rely on these tenure systems have been or are likely to be affected.

The study findings have implications on the current policy debate on protecting communal land. They show that pastoral communities have continued to use customary laws in management of land under collective access with mixed results. Expanding urbanisation, large public investments and potential to change use of land have negatively affected collective land tenure regimes, and hence the sustainability of pastoral systems. Enactment of policies that recognize customary laws, strengthen community mechanisms to enforce land rights and ensure fairness in use of land and resources derived from land will help communities in the maintenance of collective land access regimes, thereby improving the sustainability of pastoralists’ production systems.

It is evident that inequality in land use played a primary role in changing community’s perceptions about collective access to land. The inequality was brought to fore by changing social dynamics within the communities such as education. Pastoral communities inhabit lands where the ecological environment best suits extensive livestock production systems. To sustain these systems and pastoralist communities’ livelihoods, the study recommends that the following need to be considered:

  1. Inclusion of customary laws in the legal framework to help enforce customary rights used in the management of community land
  2. Need for strengthening of community mechanisms to manage land under collective tenure regimes such as providing semi-formal training and enforcing accountability procedures such as record keeping and holding of annual general meetings.
  3. Need for increased investments in and delivery of public goods in pastoral areas such as infrastructure, schools, hospital, livestock markets and veterinary services.

See the Presentation here …

See the Workshop Video Proceedings here ...

See more output on the ELLA Program here ...