Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Olkiramatian goup ranch women eager to understand land tenure

By Kelvin Koinet

Over a hundred and fifty women of Olkiramatian location gathered in St. Mary’s ACK church Entasopia on Thursday the 21st March 2013 to discuss land issues mainly impacts of land sub-division.

Though it was a community forum where all group ranch members were invited there were only ten men present among whom eight were community leaders. 
When Nguruman community voices(NCV) inquired why men were few, we were told women in the group ranch have recently been gathering for some communal activities such as demonstration against alcohol and other drugs, therefore message reached them easily. other reason given was, since the Organisation that organised the forum has been conduction women forums, many people thought it was the same.   

 Olkiramatian Group ranch women at the community forum. 
(photo- Kelvin Koinet)

The forum was organized by Centre for Indigenous Women and Children (CIWOCH) under its Land Rights and Natural Resource Management program.  Key objectives of the program as explained by its project officer are; promoting gender main-streaming in community owned lands-group ranches, improved engagement of community members in national land reforms processes and sensitize communities on impacts of land sub-division.

The forum’s facilitator led the discussion through advantages and disadvantages of communally owned lands and individually owned lands. Advantages given to communal lands stood imminent which were;

It is not possible for an individual to sell without consent of the other members,

It makes it easy to sub- divide land into blocks of different uses as it is in Olkiramatian group ranch where it is divided into three areas; the grazing area, the conservation area and the agriculture area. 

Members use the grazing area collectively while the agriculture area is sub-divided into cultivation plots among members but still under one group ranch title deed. The conservation area is an independent project run by a conservation committee that is a sub-committee of the main group ranch management committee. The revenue collected from the conservation project is supposed to be ploughed back into the group ranch development projects.

It makes it possible to share a wide ranch of resources within the ranch

For a pastoral community, pasture use and management can be planned for different seasons collectively.

Among disadvantages noted with the communal lands which were the opposed to individual lands are; lack of an individual title deed which can be used as guarantee to secure loans and members of group ranches remain subject to the decisions of the general meetings while individual can be guarantee to loans and one decide on his own without consulting anyone.

It was evident that many have already decided communal land is the best when time to discuss disadvantages with individual lands came. Among issues discussed were;

Sell of land, influx of population and corrosion of culture.  Looking at some examples of sub-divided lands like Kitengela, Isinya and Illodoarriak it was clear that the pastoral community feels like they cannot survive if the land is sub-divided.

The facilitator also gave examples of areas that were once communally owned, later sub-divided but in the long run, they came to a conclusion that their livelihood can only be sustained when they enjoined their individual lands and manage it together, Case example of Maasai Mara.
Mama Sointa, one of the women’s opinion leaders likened land sub-division in pastoral lands with ‘if we had water in one container then we decided each one to hold his/her in the hands.  Within no time, all the water will have slipped through between the fingers. So my advice is, let’s use our water in the container,’ she concluded.

one of the women's leader making announcement after the forum. They will be
 demonstrating following Monday against local brew, spirit alcohols, miraa and bhang
photo-Kelvin Koinet
Other concerns aired by Mama Koleti, was women are not included in the group ranch membership arguing that only few of the members are women.

Answering the question, Kipaseyia Orumoi the secretary to the group ranch committee said, it is possible to add the women into the register but protocol is specified. He said that could only be agreed upon in a group ranch member’s general meeting.

People in the forum said the forum was indeed successful whereby the community members’ knowledge on impacts of land sub-division was increased. The men present were also in a position to understand the rights of women in regard to property ownership as per the new constitution and they agreed that these will be tabled in the group ranch general meeting. The issue of group ranch constitution formulation was also raised where CIWOCH promised to assist in the same as a means to ensure sustainability.

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