Pastoralism within land administration in Kenya: The missing link

M. Lengoiboni, A.K. Bregt, P. van der Molen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


In land administration (LA), the right to exercising property/ownership rights on land is based on cadastral processes of adjudication, survey and rights registration. Private ownership rights are now being taken up in pastoral areas, where they must contend with pastoralists’ land rights. Pastoral land use requires seasonal migrations determined by climatic conditions. This study aimed to find out how well the existing land laws and property rights in LA are able to serve the requirements of pastoralists land use, identify mismatches and put forward possible solutions. A case study was carried out in the Samburu–Laikipia–Isiolo–Meru landscape in Kenya. Data on the degree of livestock dependency among pastoralist communities, the spatial extent and patterns of dry season migrations, the resulting encounters between herders’ and non-pastoralist land use actors, and the perceptions of land rights held by actors were collected through a variety of methods and analysed. The results show that pastoralism is still active. The migration corridors reveal that herders maintain extensive dry season mobility, even though some of the corridors currently overlap with areas where land is privately owned by non-pastoralist land use actors. Moreover, the results show that most non-pastoralist land use actors have their land rights registered, but seasonal encounters with migrating pastoralists persist as pastoralists continue to exercise customary rights of communal use. We conclude that existing land laws and property rights in LA are suitable for sedentary land use, but do not address how to serve pastoralists land rights in time and space. The pastoralist's migration routes and patterns obtained indicated that it is possible to predict where pastoralists will be at a given time/drought period. This information could be used by decision makers and land administrators to identify where and when pastoralists’ land rights apply. This could provide the foundation for including pastoralists’ spatiotemporal land rights in LA. Arguments emphasize that adjudication, surveys and registration of rights should focus not only on ownership and full control of land, but also on defined periods when spatiotemporal mobility and access rights could be granted to pastoralists
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-588
JournalLand Use Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • property-rights
  • rangelands
  • africa
  • access
  • tenure


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