In April 2021, Kenya, through the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning (MoLPP) and the National Land Commission (NLC) achieved an unprecedented milestone in land management and administration by launching the National Land Information Management System (NLIMS) dubbed Ardhisasa. Ardhisasa is designed to enhance provision of services related to land registration, administration, physical planning, survey and mapping, valuation and, adjudication & settlement – the benefits of which, to both the demand (users/consumers) and supply (government of Kenya) sides cannot be over-emphasized.
Land governance, use and management are a crucial anchor for Kenya’s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030 and its three pillars: Economic, Social and Political. Similarly, land governance, management and security of tenure are pivotal to the success of the Big 4 Agenda - whose focus is on food security, affordable housing, affordable healthcare, and manufacturing. Regionally, mainstreaming good land governance is pertinent to Africa’s Agenda 2063 - endorsed by Africa Heads of State and Government and adopted in January 2015 by the African Union (AU). Globally, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outrightly recognize the importance of good land governance and tenure security for sustainable development to ensure no one and no place is left behind in its mission to enhance partnerships for peace and prosperity for all people and the planet. Evidently, these multi-level commitments recognize the imperativeness of sound land governance and management towards a just, and inclusive society.
In fulfillment of its mandate and furtherance of Vision 2030 and the Big 4 Agenda, Kenya’s Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning has prioritized digitization of land records and processes, decentralization, national titling as well as administrative and legal reforms. Its inherent data nature and outlook directly link Ardhisasa to evidence-based land governance and the achievement of SDGs inter alia: 1-poverty eradication, 2-eradicating hunger and promoting food security, 5-gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, 11-inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and human settlements, 13-climate action, and 15-sustaining life on land. Moreover, a successful rollout of Ardhisasa is poised to significantly contribute to goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.
Given Ardhisasa aims at attaining efficiency, transparency, reliability, and accessibility of land records and transactions, it will be critical in promoting Kenya’s achievement of SDG target 1.4 (on equal rights to economic resources including land and inheritance) and target 5.a (on reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources) which take deep dives into leveraging land governance, management, and tenure security to alleviate poverty and enhance gender equality. This will be possible as Ardhisasa is expected to generate data for measuring progress towards the two targets through monitoring SDG indicators 1.4.2 (proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, by sex and type of tenure) and 5.a.1 (secure rights over agricultural land, by sex with an emphasis on women).
By cutting down on time and opening land records for review and scrutiny, guaranteeing continuous service delivery and accessibility of the platform to pertinent stakeholders locally, regionally and globally, Kenya is well aligned towards achievement of the aforementioned national, regional and global development agenda.
Since 2020, Kenya, through Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, has collaborated with United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in implementing the project “Enhancing the Capacity of National Statistics Offices to Collect Land Tenure Data and Report on SDG indicator 1.4.2”. A key finding from the project demonstrates a commitment by the Government of Kenya to collect data on land governance and tenure security as evidenced through past data initiatives conducted by KNBS inter alia:
- Agricultural land area and use data was collected in the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census (KPHC).
- Agricultural land use data was collected in the 2019 Kenya Continuous Household Survey Programme (KCHSP).
- Data on land ownership, use, size, location, ownership documentation and prevailing land tenure systems was collected in the 2015/2016 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS).
- Data on land ownership (including joint ownership) and size of agricultural land was collected in the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS).
- Data on land ownership and documentation of ownership rights was collected in the 2012/2013 Kenya National Housing Survey (KNHS).
Despite their commitment, many developing countries have struggled to collect official data, monitor and report on progress against national, regional and global development agenda especially regarding land governance, management and tenure security. This has been occasioned by a combination of incomplete, inadequate, missing and obsolete (paper-based) land records. In the wake of Ardhisasa, however, Kenya, through digitization of land records and transactions, will enhance land registration, smart data collection, collation and analysis to report on vital land statistics such as proportion of landowners and use-rights holders, documented ownership and processed land transactions disaggregated by sex, age, geographical location, tenure type etc. Thus, Ardhisasa is expected to significantly contribute towards Kenya’s commitment to regular production of timely, reliable and comparable data for evidence-based policy information on land governance and tenure security for sustainable development.
Such information is vital for reporting on progress made on land-related commitments in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the New Urban Agenda, Africa’s Agenda 2063, Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 among others. The availability of national survey data by KNBS and the projected roll-out of Ardhisasa across the country by 2022 provides the much-needed impetus to develop a concrete baseline upon which subsequent monitoring and reporting on national, regional and global development commitments including land-related SDGs can be iteratively built.
Through strengthened collaboration with relevant partners at national level (National Statistical System and Civil Society Organizations), regional level (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)) and global level (the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), UN-Habitat, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other international non-governmental organizations), Kenya is poised to significantly enhance its capacity to collect, collate, analyze and disseminate land governance, management and administration data, both for policy information and for reporting on multi-level development commitments. This will elevate Kenya on the global map among front-runner countries implementing, monitoring and reporting progress on land-related commitments for sustainable development in this decade of action.
Lead Author: Clinton Omusula is a Land Data and Knowledge Management Consultant in the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) within the Land, Housing and Shelter Section of UN-Habitat in Nairobi, Kenya.
Co-author: Paul Wanjama is a Principal Communications Officer at the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning in Kenya.
Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are solely the authors' and do not reflect the opinions of their respective institutions.