What Is The Main Function Of The National Land Commission?

What Is The Main Function Of The National Land Commission?

What Is The Main Function Of The National Land Commission?

The National Land Commission (NLC) of Kenya is an independent government commission established to manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments, initiate investigations into present or historical land injustices, and recommend appropriate redress, among other responsibilities.

The National Land Commission (NLC) is an independent government commission established under Article 67 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

The Commission’s establishment was provided for by the Constitution of Kenya, and it was officially operationalized under The National Land Commission Act of 2012

The main functions of the NLC in summary are:

  • To manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments. This includes allocating public land, developing land management policies, and monitoring their implementation.
  • To recommend a national land policy to the national government. The NLC drafted recommendations for a National Land Policy which helps guide land management in Kenya.
  • To advise the national government on a comprehensive program for registration of land title in Kenya. The NLC advises on land registration and titling programs to help secure land rights.
  • To conduct research and make recommendations related to land use planning, land adjudication, land registration, and land management. The NLC conducts research and provides recommendations to inform land policies and laws.
  • To initiate investigations into present or historical land injustices and recommend appropriate redress. The NLC investigates land grievances and recommends solutions for historical injustices.
  • To monitor and oversee land use planning throughout the country. The NLC has oversight over land use planning across national and county governments.

The main functions of the NLC in detailed as outlined in Article 67(2) of the Constitution are:

Managing Public Land

The NLC’s primary mandate is to manage all public land in the country on behalf of the national and county governments.

Public land refers to land that is vested in the state rather than private entities. This includes:

  • Land occupied by government entities and state corporations
  • Community land held by communities identified on the basis of ethnicity, culture or similar common interest
  • Land transferred to the state under provisions allowing compulsory acquisition
  • Unregistered trust land and unregistered community land

The NLC is responsible for making decisions regarding the allocation, reallocation and conversion of status of public land. This includes granting of rights, concessions and contracts over public land.

The NLC manages public land to ensure:

  • Equitable access to land across Kenya
  • Sustainable and productive use of public land
  • Transparent and accountable administration of public land
  • Protection of ecological sensitive areas and critical ecosystems

Recommending National Land Policy

The NLC has the mandate to recommend a comprehensive national land policy to guide the administration and management of all land in Kenya. The policy provides the overall framework to address fundamental land issues, including:

  • Historical land injustices around dispossession and displacement
  • Land tenure reform and security of tenure
  • Equitable access to land for all Kenyans
  • Sustainable land use practices
  • Efficient land dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Gender equity in land ownership and access

The NLC conducted nationwide consultations to formulate the National Land Policy which was adopted in 2009. The Commission continues to review the policy and recommend changes to align it with the Constitution, emerging issues, and best practices.

Overseeing Land Use Planning

The NLC has oversight and monitoring responsibilities over land use planning at the national and county government levels throughout Kenya. This entails:

  • Developing national guidelines and standards for land use planning
  • Coordinating integrated land use planning between counties
  • Monitoring compliance of physical development plans with existing guidelines
  • Overseeing formulation and implementation of land use policies

Proper land use planning is key to achieving sustainable and productive use of land resources across Kenya. It provides for coordinated management of limited land in the face of competing needs, such as farming, housing, industry, infrastructure, and conservation.

Investigating Historical Land Injustices

The NLC is mandated to initiate investigations into present and historical land injustices, either on its own initiative or in response to complaints.

Historical land injustices refer to wrongful land dispossession and displacement during the colonial period. These injustices led to mass displacement, loss of ancestral land, and deprivation of land rights for certain communities.

The Commission investigates these injustices and recommends appropriate redress mechanisms. This may include restitution, compensation, or alternative dispute resolution.

Addressing historical injustices is vital in healing wounds of the past and promoting national reconciliation and unity. It also entrenches land tenure security.

What Are The Challenges Faced By The National Land Commission In Kenya

The National Land Commission (NLC) in Kenya faces several challenges in its mandate to manage public land and spearhead land reforms. These challenges include:

Political Challenges

The NLC has faced significant political challenges, particularly from the Ministry of Lands and the executive branch of the government.

These entities have battled against the NLC in every conceivable way, including withholding funding, failing to turn over information, and engaging in blatant obstructionism.

The NLC has struggled to access inventories of public land or land registries, which has hindered its ability to identify titles or allotment letters issued for holdings on public land.

Land Disputes and Historical Injustices

Land is an emotive matter in Kenya, and land disputes have been a major problem facing Kenyans since independence.

The NLC has the power to repossess disused land, control land use, and settle squatters. However, addressing these issues has been a significant challenge due to the historical injustices related to land dispossession and displacement.

Corruption and Credibility Issues

Allegations of impropriety and corruption have become commonplace, and the commission’s credibility has been called into question.

Differential treatment of land cases has cast doubt on the commission’s independence in discharging its duties

Institutional Struggles

There have been institutional struggles between the NLC and the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning.

These two entities have been involved in disputes over their respective rights and duties, leading to legal battles that have further complicated the land administration process in Kenya

Failure to Implement Land Reforms

Despite the enactment of new land laws and the establishment of the NLC, land reform in Kenya has not fully addressed the material consequences of unequal access to land.

The failure to implement the recommendations of the Ndung’u report, which addressed illegal and irregular allocation of land, has been a significant setback.

If the new laws fail to mitigate historical injustices and curtail predatory practices, it could lead to further disillusionment among ordinary Kenyans and risks being perceived as a failure of the constitution itself

Generally, the NLC faces a myriad of challenges in its mandate to manage public land and spearhead land reforms in Kenya. These challenges range from political interference and institutional struggles to corruption and the failure to fully implement land reforms.

Addressing these challenges is crucial for the NLC to effectively carry out its mandate and ensure equitable access to land, efficient management of land resources, transparent land governance, and sustainable land use for present and future generations.


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