KMT Policy Brief

Land use transformation in Kajiado County, Kenya- Implications of a Changing Climate

Kajiado County in Southern Kenya faces a number of sustainable lands and resource management challenges, all of which have an impact on the county’s capacity to adapt to the effects of climate variability and change. These challenges stem from a combination of policy, governance and economic factors that have gradually resulted in a land tenure context where uncoordinated and unsustainable land- use practices are currently being observed. When combined with the effects of climate change, these threaten the future of the sustainable management of resources and livelihoods in the county.

Key Messages From The Policy Brief

Population Growth

Kajiado County is experiencing a rapid transformation of land due to population growth, urbanisation, and land privatisation, fragmentation and sales. This has important implications for how communities are able to respond to climate change.

Shifted Livestock Investment

The transformation of land tenure systems from communal ranches to private parcels has increasingly shifted livestock investment patterns from resource extensive investments to resource intensive systems. This locks out many poor pastoralists, whose knowledge and capabilities are aligned with extensive mobile pastoral systems.

Conservancies

Under both land tenure systems, conservancies act as dry season grazing areas, and are important refuge areas during drought. They also protect wildlife habitats and offer opportunities for tourism revenue.

Land Tenure System

The land tenure system determines the strategies and options available to communities to pursue regarding climate change adaptation and land- use investment.

Women's Rights

Women have less rights to land and have reduced control over land-use decision- making.

Call To Action

Findings call for: 1) land policies and land-use plans that facilitate mobility and pasture access for pastoralists; 2) investments and finance to enable private adaptation; and 3) support for different types of tenure regimes.

Drivers and Policies Underlying Land-use Transformations

Here, we identify four broad drivers underlying land-use transformations in Kajiado County .

1. Fragmentation of pasture land and reduced range productivity

The fragmentation of land began with the creation of a few private, individual land holdings allocated to political and community leaders just before independence. Large sections of customary land were also appropriated by the government and converted into national parks, reserves and forests (Hughes, 2005; Mwangi, 2006). In 1968, land fragmentation took up a faster pace with the enactment of the Group Representatives Act. This created group ranches for more intensified and commercialised livestock production and facilitated the registration of customary community lands as private communal holdings (Galaty, 1994).

  • Privatised
  • Ranches
  • Protected Area
  • Group/Private
  • Lease

2. Inadequate land-use planning: Demographic pressure and the expansion of settlements, towns and industries

The rapid spread of settlements, towns and industries in Kajiado County is occurring within an inadequate land-use planning and enforcement context. This has resulted in the uninhibited expansion of settlements, towns and industries, and a mosaic of incompatible land-use activities with disruptive effects on livestock management practices.

3. Land commoditisation, land sales and land conflict

Kajiado County is experiencing severe land commoditisation and land sales (Campbell, 1993; Kabubo-Mariara, 2005; Rutten, 1992; YESS Kenya, et al., 2014). Land sales are driven by diminished returns in pastoral livelihoods and facilitated by an unregulated land market, all of which occurs in an area adjacent to Nairobi with high land-demand (Figure 4). This has triggered land insecurity and conflict, further complicating land tenure governance and climate change adaptation strategies.

4. Loss of communal spaces and encroachment on livestock refuge areas and conservation spaces

The conversion and constriction of communal spaces in the county is having adverse implications on habitat preservation, wildlife conservation and livestock-based livelihoods. Communal lands (group ranches and public areas) and conservation areas, provide open habitats for livestock and wildlife. Protected areas, such as forests and game areas, act as refuge for livestock and wildlife during extreme climate change events (Mwalyosi, 1995).

Climate Change Adaptation Practices

The conversion and constriction of communal spaces in the county is having adverse implications on habitat preservation, wildlife conservation and livestock-based livelihoods

Communal lands (group ranches and public areas) and conservation areas, provide open habitats for livestock and wildlife. Protected areas, such as forests and game areas, act as refuge for livestock and wildlife during extreme climate change events (Mwalyosi, 1995)

Land Tenure And Climate Change Adaptation

1. Communal land tenure

Under communal land tenure, communities zone their land into wet and dry season grazing areas. Depending on pasture and water availability, pastoralists move their livestock and settlements between these zones. Livestock also remain highly mobile and migrate throughout group ranches and through negotiated access to adjacent counties (Narok, Machakos, Makueni, Taita Taveta and Nairobi ) and into Tanzania. Communal systems appear to provide inclusivity and resilience for different social categories.

2. Private land tenure

In contrast, in subdivided group ranches under private land tenure, individual land owners do not have community grazing reserves on which to rely. Instead they fence and paddock their land parcels, and practise rotational grazing in order to best utilise their individual pasture.

3. Conservancies

Under communal land tenure, communities zone their land into wet and dry season grazing areas. Depending on pasture and water availability, pastoralists move their livestock and settlements between these zones. Livestock also remain highly mobile and migrate throughout group ranches and through negotiated access to adjacent counties (Narok, Machakos, Makueni, Taita Taveta and Nairobi ) and into Tanzania. Communal systems appear to provide inclusivity and resilience for different social categories.

4. Conservancies

An adaptation strategy found in both communal and private land tenure systems is the formation of conservancies. These protect and formalise dry season grazing zones in communal group ranches, such as the Olkiramatian and Shompole conservancies, or can involve the reaggregation of individual parcels of subdivided land, such as the Mara conservancies in Narok County (Bedelian & Ogutu, 2017). In each case, these conservancies act as livestock grazing zones while also protecting wildlife habitats.

Land tenure and livestock investments

The dramatic changes in land tenure from communal to private, more individualised systems has resulted in diverse investment patterns. Whereas investments in communal land holdings are centred more on traditional pastoral strategies such as mobility, flexibility and reciprocity, investments in private tenure systems are characterised by resource-intensive and more market- based technological ventures, such as hay and fodder production, milk-selling and packaging, and meat processing, among others. These technological investments offer opportunities for higher productivity levels and transformation within the livestock value chain, which can help build climate resilience and adaptive capacity in traditional pastoral systems.

Land Tenure and Women

Women face diminished rights to land. Their rights are inhibited by the patriarchal social and land ownership systems that confer control of the household, and its land and livestock assets, to men. During the subdivision process, land is allocated to men and women’s access to that land is mediated through their husbands or other male relatives. Women thus have reduced control in decision-making over land-based adaptation and investment options. A step in the right direction to ensure that women must be involved in the sale of family land is a recent requirement1, which has been put into law that calls for spousal consent when selling family land.

Implications and Policy Recommendations

1. Prevent land fragmentation and support the sharing of livestock resources:

The Kajiado County Government needs to implement the policies and laws that prevent the creation of land parcels of sub-economic size that are already in place.

2. Improve land-use planning

The Kajiado County Government must develop and enforce a land-use planning framework anchored by appropriate laws to mitigate against uncontrolled land-use practices and to manage urban and industrial sprawl.

3. Regulate land sales and support communal tenure regimes

The Kajiado County Government should ensure that procedures and laws, especially those regarding spousal consent, are fully observed before any land sales and subdivisions are allowed.

4. Safeguard communal and public lands, and protected conservation areas

Kajiado County Government needs to protect communal and public lands against uncontrolled subdivision and privatisation.

5. Support pastoralists’ climate change adaptation practices

The Kajiado County Government, supported by development partners and the private sector, needs to ensure that adequate public and private investments, and an appropriate enabling environment, are developed to support pastoralist adaptation and build climate resilience, regardless of land tenure system.

KMT Policy Brief

Land use transformation in Kajiado County, Kenya- Implications of a Changing Climate

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