Land tenure and land management in the districts around Mount Elgon: An assessment presented to Mount Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP)
This study reviewed historical and current factors and trends affecting land use, land tenure, resource access, human settlement, and conflicts over resource access and tenure in the districts around Mt. Elgon in Kenya and Uganda. Government officials and other sources were interviewed in the districts as well as at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) farms and a development agency, Vi-Agroforestry. Maps on land tenure and general characterisation of the programme area are based on information from a variety of sources such as interviews, paper maps and existing GIS databases. Complex historical processes in Kenya and Uganda have led to the current state of land management in the two countries. In Kenya, most of the small-scale farms in the study area are under freehold tenure as a result of a land adjudication programme that started in the 1950s. On the Ugandan side of the mountain, customary land tenure is common. Although this form of land tenure was recognised in the 1998 Land Act, few customary tenants have obtained certificates of occupancy. Several academic dissertations and papers written in Uganda on the 1998 Land Act were consulted for this report as were various papers about the land reform in Kenya. A common finding from the reviews was that the land policies in both countries have not resolved and will not resolve the land issues they were intended to address (such as low economic growth and agricultural production).
A large number of studies conducted in an attempt to find correlations between land tenure types and investment show very few correlations. For instance, spatial differences in tree cover in the Mt. Elgon area are the results of complex issues related to history, ethnicity and tradition, farming practices (such as oxploughing) and development projects.
The study revealed the following problem areas in the current setting of land tenure and land management: Landlessness, settlement conflicts (Benet and Chepyuk, and Namatale), insecurity on the northern side of the mountain, fragmentation of farmland and small land size due to population pressure affecting land management. Other problem areas are women’s lack of tenure rights in practice (tree tenure and land rights), conversion of customary land tenure into freehold (multiple rights to land that are not accommodated by the law, e.g. wife’s position), resource access to forest products, especially on Kenyan side where joint management of forests is only starting in 2007, and, in the case of Uganda, land offices that do not function.
Soini, E. (2007). Land tenure and land management in the districts around Mount Elgon: An assessment presented to Mount Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP). ICRAF Working Paper no. 49. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre.
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