Credit: Deborah Espinosa









Kenya has recently initiated far-reaching land reform.  It began with a new Constitution, ratified in 2010. Then, in 2012, the Government of Kenya passed the Land Act, Land Registration Act, and the National Land Commission Act. 

All of these laws strengthen the land rights of Kenyans and promote gender equity in accessing land. The Constitution also created the category of “community land,” which will serve as the legal foundation for upholding rights to community-held land.

The reforms have far-reaching implications for improving the livelihoods of Kenya’s rural population of nearly 32 million who largely depend on the crops they grow and the animals they keep for their food security, income, and survival.

Today, three-quarters of Kenya’s people live on one-fifth of all agricultural land that is classified as high-potential.  Problems of poor water management, soil erosion, declining soil fertility, and the expansion of agriculture into marginal areas limit farm yield and compound land-related conflicts.  Expansion of agriculture in turn infringes on rangelands needed by pastoralists and whittles away at remaining forests.



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The new Constitution and land laws offer a unique opportunity to transform land governance, and overcome deep-seated grievances—some dating back to colonial times—related to corruption, forced evictions, resource degradation, and competition over land and natural resources.

Policy makers are drafting a community land law, and regulations to enable the implementation of the broad-reaching new laws.  They are working to build effective, legal-based solutions to Kenya's land and natural resource challenges.  Implementation will also require increased public awareness of legal rights.

Kenya infographic

Total population 41,609,728
Rural population / rural poverty rate 31,629,968/49.10%
Share of women in agriculture 68.00%
Urban population / urban poverty rate 9,979,760/33.70%
Internally displaced People 250,000
Total land area / Agricultural land as % of total 569,140/48.23%
Protected areas (as % of total land) 11.76%
Forested land (as % of total) 6.07%
Annual deforestation rate -0.31%
Land rights and access rating 0.712
Time required to register property (days) 73
Women's ownership rights 0.7
Large-scale land holdings 229,200
GDP per capita (current USD) 808
Agriculture as % of GDP 28.48%
Natural resource income as % of GDP 1.45%
Major natural resources limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar
Tourism as share of GDP 2.17%