Women's land tenure and property rights: A case study of settlement schemes in trans-nzoia district, Kenya
The objective of this study was to assess women's land tenure and property rights in settlement schemes, in Trans-Nzoia district. The research specifically reviewed provisions for women's land tenure and property rights in settlement schemes in the May 2007 draft Kenya national land policy; assessed women's land tenure status in settlement schemes; assessed effects of land tenure status on women's access to credit and use of improved farm inputs; investigated women's views of the causes of their land tenure status and the extent to which their tenure status affects farm productivity. The study targeted 63 respondents in three settlement schemes in Trans-Nzoia district through purposive sampling. Field research was conducted over a two week time frame, from 8 to 20, March 2008. A topic-focused, semi-structured, open-ended interview guide was used to collect data. Data was analyzed and presented using descriptive statistics. A review of the draft land policy shows that it acknowledges the lack of clearly defined procedures for allocating settlement land, and notes that this loophole has resulted in corrupt allocations and grabbing of settlement land. However, the draft policy does not address impacts of past non-regulated allocations on women, while section 3.5.3 proposed "Settlement Land Allocation Principles" fails to integrate gender equity as a principle for allocation of settlement land. Findings on women's land tenure status in settlement schemes show that only 3% of women in the study sample had land titles, with majority relying on marriage (41 %) for access to land. However, the study reveals that few marital households (13%) have titled land. On the other hand, only 1% of women in the study sample accessed agricultural credit over the past five years because of lack of titles to land, mostly required as collateral for agricultural credit. The assessment found that because of inadequate working capital, only 10% of women purchase and use improved inputs resulting in minimal productivity . Other findings show that women view the influence of patrilineal customary practices in post-independence land resettlement as one of the causes of women's low tenure to land in settlement schemes. In the absence of formal procedures for allocating settlement land, allocations were made to heads of households, interpreted as men. Women also view poverty and high costs of land as a reason that prevents them from buying land, while patrilineal inheritance practices are also seen to perpetuate women's low tenure to land. This study recommends establishment of settlement procedures that contain provisions on fair allocation of settlement land devoid of gender bias. Awareness of women's land and property rights should be provided to the public and institutions in charge of dispensation of justice, particularly customary leaders. There is urgent need to repeal existing formal laws on succession and matrimonial property to conform to the principles of gender equality. Kenya's 'moveable property law' should be reformed to enable diversification of non-land forms of collateral. There is also urgent need to positively resolve issues of land title deeds ill settlement schemes in Trans-Nzoia district to enhance farm investments and productivity.