Memorandum by Siaya County Stakeholders on Land Reforms to the Minister for Lands Hon. James Orengo, EGH, MP.


WE, the undersigned grassroots leaders of religious organizations, non-governmental organizations, professional groups, and community based organizations, elders and women groups:
COGNIZANT of the fact that we represent the views, concerns and aspirations expressed by the various participants from six forums held across Siaya County aiming at precipitating Land Reforms at the grassroots. More than 1500 participants attended the forums;
TAKING NOTE of the fact that Agenda Four items were arrived at by the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Process to which you were a signatory;
AWARE THAT meaningful progress in land reforms is seen to be impeded by lack of meaningful stakeholder
consultation, insufficient public education and inefficient service delivery by the Ministry of Lands, as well as concerns and complaints of cases of corruption hindering service delivery at the Ministry of Lands;
HAVING CONVERGED under the auspices of Siaya Grassroots Land Reforms Movement convened by Community Initiative Action Group-Kenya (CIAG-K), Nyanza Youth Coalition (NYC), Siaya County Civil Society Forum (SCCSF) and other partners, as part of our contribution towards precipitating actualizing land reforms in the country through grassroots organization;
HAVING implemented a broad consultation that allowed participation in this process by conducting a baseline survey in the entire Siaya County to better define specific problems related to land administration and management in Siaya; 

It is important to appreciate the need to accelerate the pace of key land reforms that were conceived against a backdrop of conflict, the 2007 - 2008 post-election violence.


Whilst national media reports can give the impression that land issues are only a problem in the Rift Valley and Central provinces, Siaya County residents also believe land issues there to be a crisis requiring urgent attention. 

The existence of unresolved land problems means that a large number of Siaya County residents feel deprived of the most important factor of production: land; a problem for which they hold key government stakeholders accountable.

Specifically, numerous residents of Siaya have, through submitted petitions (or during our forums), alleged that services in the County’s Land Offices do not serve the common mwanainchi. 

Women, who are key agents of production in Siaya County, presented testimonies that they suffer  discrimination on matters of access and security of rights to land and land-based resources, further highlighting the urgent need for key reforms to move forward.
Residents of Siaya County who presented petitions at a meeting on 9th March 2012 in a county-wide meeting at St. Julian’s Academy (to which you had been invited) feel let down and betrayed by the Kenyan Government and its officials who are employed to serve them - land officers, provincial administration and local authorities – as well as by elected local leaders and members of Parliament.
It was evident from discussions at the constituency town hall meetings that, although residents of Siaya County recognize that some of their challenges can only be solved within the overall framework of the land reform process currently underway, many of their problems could, in fact, have been addressed effectively within the framework of the existing legal and institutional arrangements.

Multiple examples of ongoing cases can be cited to support the urgent need for reforms to move forward. A few examples are: ‘Siaya widows cry out for land so cruelly taken’ published in The Standard on 14/03/2012
1) 197/2008 Kisumu High court, Siaya District Land Tribunal 01/2006 and Provincial Land Tribunal –Nyanza case No. 261/2006- All Joseph Asin Vs Josia Agak Odero
2) Case No.25/2011-Siaya Law Courts Aggrey Otwenya Were vs. carmlius otieno Odenyo, and Hamala Onyango
3) Case No.104/09 Richard Onyango Oloo vs. Lucia Akoth Oluoch, Parcel N0. 3722
These reports contain allegations of complicity of the leadership, especially political leadership, in the grabbing of public land, defiling of the environment, interference with the delicate ecosystem and lack of accountability and consideration of local community welfare in the implementation of major projects in Siaya County. A few other examples are the unresolved Dominion Farms Dispute and the destruction of previously-gazetted Got Winyo Forest in Bondo District. 

There are also complaints of court cases being deliberately dragged out for years, and where court judgments are often not enforced. Ordinary Siaya County residents cannot economically or socially thrive in such an environment, where legal processes can be circumvented or ignored with impunity.

Again, as stated in the forums mentioned above, many Siaya County residents feel that the land reforms process is driven by the interests of a small group of elites, while the participation of ordinary wanainchi has been neither sought nor encouraged. There is a skepticism that if the ongoing legal and institutional reform process continues as is, it will fail to address fundamental land problems.
It is therefore our petition and recommendations:
1. That, as the Minister for Lands, you should provide critical leadership for your Ministry to address the land administration and management problems facing residents of Siaya County, as detailed above.
2. That in this respect, you are invited to join the grassroots leadership for Siaya County in a public forum on a date and venue of your choice within the month of May 2012 to deliberate on the above issues. In this respect, you are also petitioned to mobilize and bring along relevant Lands Ministry officials, from national and local levels, to join you and listen to the petitions of constituents and clarify the options available on a way forward regarding these issues. 

We shall, however, proceed to convene such forum if you fail to set the date as requested.
Petitioned signed today, the 24th Day of April 2012.
For and on Behalf of Steering Committee:-

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