This report has been prepared for the Adaptation Consortium, which is a core component of the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and one of six components of the Strengthening Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in Kenya StARCK+ project funded by DFID.

It presents legal options available to county governments for securing community rights over the management and use of land and land-based resources in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) under the new policy and institutional context in Kenya underpinned by the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the National Land Policy and New Land and Natural Resource Sector legislation being developed to implement the policy and institutional reforms.

The StARCK+ project is implemented in ASALs counties in which natural resources play critical roles in local economies and community livelihoods strategies. As such, ongoing reforms of the policy and institutional framework for the governance of land and natural resources are of direct interest to the communities and leaders of these counties and to the project. The said reforms have introduced fundamental changes in the areas of governance; economic development; and land and natural resource management.

The most important changes in this regard include: the introduction of devolved government; the privileging of equity, inclusiveness and participation in the planning and implementation of economic development; tenure reform, establishment of the National Land Commission ( NLC ) and devolution of land administration.

These reforms have created both opportunities and challenges that have a bearing on security of communities’ access to and control of land and natural resources. ASALs communities can use the opportunities to play more active roles in the management of land and land-based resources; while county governments in the ASALs can use them to strengthen and institutionalize the role of communities in the management of natural resources. The main opportunities in this regard are:-

1. Establishment of devolved government, which enhances spaces for communities to be directly engaged in policy discussions and decisions on the use of land and natural resources.

2. Recognition of the need for and commitment to integrated resource management based on ecosystem structures regardless of administrative or political boundaries; which provides a policy opening for mobility and multiple resource use, critical both for sustainable resource management use and resilience livelihoods in the ASALs .

3. Recognition of the right of communities to participate in the conservation and management of natural resources and to share in the benefits derived from the utilization of such resources.

4. Formal recognition of traditional knowledge related to land-based resources, which opens up policy space for the contribution of traditional institutions to land and natural resource management in the ASALs

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