Kenya plans to redistribute idle land to poor

Posted On Tuesday, 10 February 2004 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Nairobi - Kenya's minister for land on Monday threatened to repossess tracts of idle land and redistribute it to thousands of landless people.


Amos Kimunya

Land ownership is an explosive topic in Kenya, with successive governments being blamed for failing to tackle the problem of inequitable land distribution.

Amos Kimunya, the minister for lands and settlement, said in an interview government officials have been touring farming regions to identify under-utilised land.

'Our emphasis now is maximising the land use'
The ministry will in the next two weeks inform owners of idle land about its plans to reallocate it.

"We will tell them 'we are giving you one more year, if you can't demonstrate to us that you can develop it then give us back the land'," Kimunya said.

"Our emphasis now is maximising the land use. For us all, land should be economically and efficiently used."

Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, making up around 24 percent of Kenyan gross domestic product.

Land would be seized and not bought from owners, but Kimunya said the exercise was different from the Zimbabwean government's policy of forcibly taking white-owned farms to redistribute to landless blacks.

Land would be taken from anyone, black or white, if it was felt they were not using the land sufficiently, Kimunya said.

Many white Kenyans voluntarily sold their farms after independence but some still own large tracts of land which they run as ranches or as wildlife conservation areas.

"What we want to see is that there is economic activity taking place on that land. So that you do not have 40 acres and you put two zebras there and say you are operating a sanctuary," he said.

So far the amount of land which could be seized has not been determined and depends on the findings of the officials touring the country.

The problem of barren land in Kenya has led to an increase in people living as squatters, an expansion of slums and the fragmentation of agriculture land.

Analysts trace the problem to independence in 1963 because most of the productive land went to a small clique of black political elite and some white farmers, while the families of poor former freedom fighters were left landless.

The situation has worsened over the years because land has been used as a tool for rewarding political loyalty with the beneficiaries keeping the land for resale at a higher price.

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 09:56

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