, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 27 – The Federation of Women Lawyers – Kenya (FIDA) has lauded the Cabinet’s move on Thursday to approve the National Land Policy.
FIDA Chairperson Naomi Wagereka termed the move as historic and important for the country which is largely an agricultural economy.
Ms Wagereka says the move will ensure women in Kenya who hold only one out of the 80 percent land titles in the agricultural sector benefit.
“We applaud this decision by the Cabinet because it will go a long way in ensuring that women continue to play a more meaningful role in the economic development of their country,” she said in a statement.
Ms Wagereka observed that the lack of titles had deterred many women from access to land and property something that had made it difficult for them to improve their socio economic status.
“Without the means to secure credit facilities, women have continued in the cycle of poverty,” she noted.
The approval comes six years after discussion on the post independence national policy first begun and it is now due to be tabled for debate in Parliament as a Policy Paper.
If passed, the laws would give spouses equal right to land with their sons and daughters.
“We look forward to the adoption of the policy and its elevation to a sessional paper an eventual entrenchment in the constitution. We urge therefore, that the government maintains the same spirit in its efforts towards achieving the necessary institutional and legal reforms under Agenda Four,” Ms Wagereka said.
The names of both spouses will be on land documents to reduce and eliminate possibilities of unjust disposal.
It seeks to stamp the seal of law on recognition of land rights of children and spouses who would ordinarily be dispossessed whenever family land, absolutely vested in the name of one family member, is sold.
Also persons with leasehold interests in land would enjoy ownership for 99 years, 900 years less than in some cases now.
Foreigners would also face tough restrictions before acquiring land, unless they secure presidential exemption.
The policy further defines mechanisms for resolving historical injustices that led to uneven distribution of land, and also tackles the issue of irregularly and fraudulently acquired land.
If made law, absolute ownership of land found to have been fraudulently acquired would be reversed.
Women would also be represented in land administration institutions. Three institutions are suggested for land management: The National Lands Commission, The District Lands Board, and Community Land Boards.
Furthermore District Land Disputes Tribunals would be strengthened for dispute resolution.
The policy provides a platform for addressing issues such as access to land; land use and planning, environmental degradation, land conflicts and injustices, among others.
The new policy will require at least Sh6 billion to implement in the next five years.