An investigation into the effects of informal individualisation of unregistered community land on community land rights. Case study: Ikutha district in Kitui county
Land is a very important asset to every living thing ranging from the small insects, plants, wild and domestic animals to human beings. Human beings being the most knowledgeable of all the living things have the ability to regulate the manner in which the land is utilized. This is through coming up with legal and institutional frameworks to guide the use of land and its resources among the different land uses. Community land rights, which inform our research objectives, need to be well defined and regulated to ensure a smooth and fair utilisation of community land by the eligible members. The main objective of the research was to investigate why ‘informal’ individualisation of unregistered community land occurs and the effects it has on the communal land rights of the residents. The data sought was generally qualitative in nature and questionnaires were used as the main method of primary data collection. Secondary data was collected through review of the relevant literature. The study population consisted of both female and male genders and the calculated sample size was 72. The data collected from the field study was statistically analyzed and the results clearly presented in table and graphs. The main finding of the research was that the elite and the powerful especially the male members in the society perpetrated the ‘informal’ individualization of community land. The main reasons being the need to increase the sense of individual ownership through creating a platform where the benefits resulting from any investment on community land will accrue to the investor and not the entire community. It was also noted that many residents, especially women who are categorised among the vulnerable, suffered landlessness, food insecurity among other problems at the household level due to deprivation of their land rights owing to the ‘informal’ individualisation. As a way of curbing the problems of the ‘informal’ individualisation, the research recommended the formation of local land boards that would deal with all community land issues while ensuring that everyone is granted equal rights to community land irrespective of their gender, social class or any other base. It is also important that the land officials strive to establish the exact people entitled to community land while adjudicating any community land. This will help ensure that land ownership falls in the hands of the eligible owners as the process of adjudication has kicked off in the district. A lot of sensitization on the effects of the discriminative cultural norms on development (both at local and national level) especially those inhibiting women from inheriting any land is also a major recommendation of the research.