NAKURU, Kenya, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's new law makes it possible for communities laying claim on ancestral land to acquire title deeds and enjoy right to full ownership.
This comes as a blessing to minority communities which have long struggled to secure legal protection to their inherited land.
Conflicts have often risen over acquisition of land in Kenya some of whom involve minority communities in different parts of the country.
The Community Land Act which came into effect in August gives cognizance to ancestral land and bestows power to any community member to seek for it's a title deed, the legal document which shows an individual is the rightful owner of a particular piece of land.
Wilson Kipkazi, executive director of Endorois Welfare Council, an organization working around issues affecting members of the minority community of Endorois, said the law would save them the struggle to own land.
"We have been having problems with land ownership as members of Endorois community. Getting the title deeds is the best thing we are looking forward to," he said.
The community has been creating committees to look into their land ownership challenges which are yet to be solved of which he hopes enactment of the law would address to the advantage of the members.
Actively involving the community at every stage of enforcing the law would also be welcome to eliminate chances of conflicts in allocating the land, he said.
"In areas like Muchongoi (in the Rift Valley region) we have had problems of non-Endorois being allocated land but I believe proper enforcement of the community land law will address that problem fully," he observed.
Absence of legal claim to a land makes it impossible for the occupant to establish long term investments for fear of future loss. As such communities remain impoverished for centuries due to under development.
Kipkazi, however, observes the long strenuous process of enacting laws in Kenya as a challenge to enjoying benefits of the law immediately.
"There are other policies that need to be put in place to operationalize the law and this takes such a long time," he stated.
Daniel Kobei, the Ogiek Peoples' Development Program, which advocates for the rights of the Ogiek community, a minority group which largely inhabits within the Mau ecosystem; says establishment of the law serves them well in pushing for land justice.
"The only challenge comes in terms of whether the government is going to implement it as per the law," he said.
"Some of the Ogiek land is said to be public land and so we will wait to see if they will be given as community land."
Under the law, the right of ownership to a community land enjoyed by an individual or community before the new regulations came into effect will be upheld.
"No right on community land shall be expropriated or confiscated except by law on the public interest and in consideration of payment of just compensation to the person or persons," reads Clause 7 (subsection 3) on land ownership and tenure system.
Kobei said they are training the community on how to manage their community land to benefit them while ensuring they are protecting the environment appropriately.
He argues that having protected ownership of community land will motivate the Ogieks to be more proactive in protecting the Mau Forest.
The Ogiek live within the Mau Forest ecosystem, areas they refer to their communal land they inherited from their ancestors.
Mau Forest is a forest complex which covers five counties in the Rift Valley region. It is the largest water tower in the East African region and supports the Maasai-Mara ecosystem, the home of Maasai Mara and Serengeti National Parks, known for the wildebeest heritage.