Rapid investment and development on community lands in Kenya have exacerbated the issue of land stress among communities. In response, communities return to the drawing board to create strategies while asserting and defending their land rights. Active participation and consultation during compulsory land acquisition are critical in this process. However, many affected communities struggle to advocate for their rights due to insufficient knowledge of land rights.
To address this gap, Natural Justice collaborates closely with Turkana County, Northern Kenya communities. Over the past two years, Natural Justice has committed to supporting the communities to secure their land rights and tenure in the expansive Turkana County. In line with this, a legal empowerment meeting was conducted in Turkana South, focusing on compulsory land acquisition resulting from the LAPSSET Corridor Project.
The meeting aligned with the objectives of the Affirming Rights Stream, contributing to Natural Justice’s Strategic Plan for 2020-2022. Its overall goal was to increase and secure control by indigenous peoples and local communities over their lands, ecosystems, and traditional knowledge. Doing so aimed to create community agency, resilience, and the ability to provide alternative solutions and adaptations.
The meeting successfully achieved the following objectives:
- Empowerment: At least 20 community members participated in the meeting, gaining knowledge about their land rights and the community land’s compulsory land acquisition process.
- Engagement: The meeting provided a platform for participants to outline their engagement with the National Land Commission regarding the compulsory land acquisition process.
- Stakeholder Mapping: Natural Justice conducted a stakeholder mapping session to identify key groups and networks for potential partnerships and collaborations.
Through this legal empowerment meeting, Natural Justice accomplished its main objective of empowering community members through training on land rights and the process of compulsory land acquisition. It’s important to note that legal empowerment plays a crucial role in equipping communities with the knowledge and tools necessary to defend their land rights.
Natural Justice furthered its goal of empowering community representatives by conducting the meeting in Turkana South and enhancing engagement with the National Land Commission. Through stakeholder mapping and partnerships, a collaborative effort can be fostered to protect the rights of communities affected by compulsory land acquisition.
This initiative is a significant step toward affirming the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, providing them with the agency and resilience needed to address the challenges posed by land stress and development projects.