No option but to settle! The Community Land Act, devolution and pastoralism in Samburu County, Kenya

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This article examines the process of securing land rights for pastoralists in Kenya, applying the concept of sedentism to understand the impact of two recent changes in Kenyan land governance. In 2010, the Government of Kenya passed a new constitution, which devolved government power to the local level. A declared aim was to give communities greater influence over governance of their lands. Then, in 2016, the Government passed the Community Land Act, which aims at formalising community ownership of land through group registration. Drawing on fieldwork among pastoralists living in Samburu County in Northern Kenya, we show that despite ostensibly aiming to empower local pastoralist communities and provide better recognition of their land rights, these two changes interact to promote the sedentarisation of pastoralists. The Community Land Act has treated communal grasslands as clusters of discrete parcels rather than as integrated rangeland ecosystems. In combination with devolution, this runs counter to the flexible and negotiated forms of land governance upon which pastoralists' livelihoods rely, thereby making them susceptible to sedentarism and dispossession.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNomadic Peoples
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)292-314
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 367547483