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History in the making: How communities in Kenya are claiming their land rights

Over 60% of Kenya’s land mass is community land. The indigenous people that live off these lands have done so for generations, and yet they’ve never had the legal rights to govern them. As a result, they are vulnerable to having their land and resources grabbed for mining, agribusiness, and public infrastructure projects.

But in 2016, the situation changed. Kenya adopted the Community Land Act, and for the first time in history, it was possible for communities to secure legal rights over their land.

With the support of paralegals, ordinary citizens, like Matito Leruso and Isaiah Lesurunka, led their communities to meet the requirements of the law. They spent months electing a land management committee, drafting and adopting bylaws for land governance, and creating evidence of their land claims.

The government, meanwhile, did little. Three years after adopting the act, they had not granted one community the title to their lands.

The communities—knowing that the law was on their side—decided to take action.

This video is the story of their legal empowerment journey. It is a reminder to us all that when the power of law is in people’s hands, justice is possible.

For more information about how to support communities in Kenya to use the law to protect their land rights, download our newly published Facilitator Guide to Kenya’s Community Land Act.


March 6, 2020 | Jaron Vogelsang


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