Kenya’s Community Land Act and Climate Resilience: A Toolkit for Communities and Paralegals

For most rural and indigenous people in Kenya, land is their greatest asset — their source of food, water, and livelihoods, and the basis of their history, culture, and community. But increasingly, large-scale infrastructure projects like LAPPSET, conflict, population growth, climate change, and other forces are putting pressure on their land. The pressure continues to negatively affect local communities by limiting their access to natural resources for survival. The increasingly negative effects of climate change in particular are leading to environmental hazards and risks that are directly hurting indigenous communities’ livelihood practices. These hazards include biophysical changes (i.e. unpredictable rain patterns, prolonged droughts, drying of water sources, raising temperatures, etc.), as well as socio-economic or political changes (i.e. conflicts with neighbors). Nevertheless, over the years, rural and indigenous communities in Kenya have adopted survival strategies to adapt to aggressive environmental pressures. They have developed various forms of adaptation as well as coping strategies to the impacts of climate change and variability. Such strategies are closely guided and informed by the communities’ customs. The Kenya Constitution (2010), and the Community Land Act (2016) give rural and indigenous communities the legal right to own the land they live on and use for their livelihoods, culture, and homes. The Community Land Act provides a clear process which communities should follow to be able to register and govern their lands. The Community Land Act enables communities to register and acquire legal title to their lands and offers an opportunity for communities to strengthen their internal governance mechanisms. The law requires communities to organize themselves and determine their land claim, develop bylaws to govern their land and natural resources, elect a committee to manage their land, and then complete and submit the respective application forms for registration. This toolkit provides detailed guidance on how facilitators can work with local communities to leverage the implementation of Kenya’s Community Land Act (2016) to address the climate change challenge. This toolkit does not seek to replace the traditional/customary climate change resilience practices the communities have adopted over time, but rather to build on and strengthen them.