Francis first heard the news in late 2017: The village leaders responsible for managing Kuku B’s community land were reportedly holding secret meetings with private investors.
This is all too common in Kenya, he knew what would come next. The leaders would sub-divide, privatize, and sell off parcels of the community’s land, leaving him and the many pastoralist residents of Kuku B with nowhere to graze the cattle, sheep, and goats. He had seen it happen in neighboring villages. Nearby Kimana was a prime example.
Seven years ago, the village leaders and elites that manage Kimana’s community land convinced their fellow community members to privatize and sub-divide it. But like Kuku B, and most Indigenous villages in the region, the majority of residents of Kimana are herders; their livelihood depends on large pastures on which their animals can graze. The small parcels of land they each received in the sub-division could not support their livestock.
With nowhere else to go, many of them try to use Kuku B’s common grazing land, but it is quickly becoming overgrazed, leading to conflicts between the two communities.
Within a few years, many Kimana herders became impoverished and ended up selling off their parcel of land or a portion of it.
The practice of sub-dividing and privatizing registered community lands (known as ‘Group Ranches’) has been increasing in the region. In fact, of the 52 Group Ranches in the Kajidao county of Kenya, only 6 had their lands intact by the end of 2018.
The driver of privatization has largely been external. Investors in search of minerals and other resources often co-opt the group of elite members and village leaders who oversee the management of the Group Ranch, promising them personal benefits if they convince their community to sub-divide and privatize their land.
It appeared to Francis that something along these lines was likely taking place in Kuku B. The secret meetings with investors worried him. He had become disillusioned and frustrated with the leadership of his Group Ranch over the years. Elections have not been held in almost three decades, decisions were made secretly, and the larger community has no say in how the land is governed or managed. He did not trust them to act in the community’s best interest.
Around this time, Francis began participating in community land protection activities led by Il’laramatak Community Concerns (ICC), a Namati partner, and in mid-2018 he joined their team as a paralegal.
As he learned more about community land rights through his training, Francis became increasingly upset at the extent of the land committee’s years of mismanagement. But alongside his frustration, he found hope. The law, he learned, was on their side. Kenya’s Community Land Act (2016) requires Group Ranches to re-register their land and tries to address many of the weaknesses of past laws, including how community land is managed.
He also learned that under the Community Land Act, the leaders could not make decisions to sell, lease or allocate land to other users without consulting the wider community. Here, he realized, was an opportunity to stop the privatization.
Francis started to talk to community members about the need to protect their land—and their right to do so. He mobilized them to resist the privatization, organizing meetings and a peaceful protest that brought together hundreds of people. They demonstrated against the leader’s self-interested management, and helped people to know more about the law and the urgent need to come together to protect the land that they depend on for their livelihoods, culture, and identity.
The protest made national news, and the Ministry of Land and area Member of Parliament took notice. Soon after, the privatization was halted. The residents of Kuku B succeeded in defending their rights to the land and protecting their livelihoods.
Francis and ICC’s other paralegals are now in the process of supporting the community to finalize its bylaws—one of the major requirements of the new law and something that community members can use to hold future leaders accountable. The demonstration has remained at the forefront of the community’s collective mind throughout the process: They have included bylaws to ensure that this sub-division never happens and rules to help better manage their grazing land and regulate access by other communities.
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Last updated January 30, 2013.
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Last updated: May 25, 2018
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Namati may collect and retain two types of information about Site and Forum visitors: (i) personal information that individual visitors voluntarily provide when interacting on the Site or Forum or on certain other occasions (such as via forms or in emails); and (ii) tracking data, which is data that is automatically collected from every Site and Forum visitor as they use and browse the site.
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The current list of third-party service providers we use include:
Reduces spam posts on the Forum.
Privacy notice: https://automattic.com/privacy/
Amazon Web Services
Stores backups for the Site and the Forum.
Privacy notice: https://aws.amazon.com/privacy/
Hosts and stores backups for the Forum.
Privacy notice: https://www.digitalocean.com/legal/privacy/
Compiles visitor statistics on the Site and Forum. You can opt out of Google Analytics using a browser extension.
Privacy notice: https://www.google.com/analytics/terms/
Online service for organizing and hosting webinars.
Privacy notice: https://www.logmeininc.com/legal/privacy
Provides mailing list and mail server services for sending newsletters, Forum notifications, and weekly email summaries.
Privacy notice: https://mailchimp.com/legal/privacy/
Online service providing contact management system.
Privacy notice: https://www.salesforce.com/company/privacy/
Provides cloud servers for hosting the Site.
Privacy notice: https://wpengine.com/legal/privacy/
Online service to automate adding member data to Salesforce.
Privacy notice: https://zapier.com/privacy/
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Your Information is stored on Digital Ocean servers in New York, USA.
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The Forum uses data about your posts and other activity to make automated decisions about whether your posts are spam.
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Because Namati is concerned about the privacy protection of children who access the Internet, we comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Accordingly, the Site and Forum are not intended for use by anyone under the age of 13, and we do not knowingly collect information from anyone under 13 years of age without the consent of a parent or guardian.
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The section titles in this Policy are for convenience only and have no legal or contractual effect.
The Site, the Forum, and any third party services they use, may be subject to additional terms and conditions regarding privacy and use of information. Your use of the Site and the Forum is subject to those terms and conditions, which are incorporated into this Policy by reference. In the event of an inconsistency between this Policy and any additional posted conditions, the provisions of the additional conditions shall control.
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Namati Data Protection Officer
1616 P Street NW, Suite 101
Washington, DC 20036, USA
If you live in a country which has adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (EU; 2016/679), you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority about this policy and its application.
The Policy was updated in May 2018 to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations.