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Kenya has approved the new national land policy, which recognizes land not just as a commodity for trade, but also as a principal source livelihood. This will correct the injustices against women, children and minority groups. The policy further plans to stop hoarding of land for speculation by introducing taxes to discourage ownership of idle land.
It also gives the State power to regulate private land. A classic example is the 117-year-old Married Women’s Property Act of 1882 targeted for repeal to pave way for a more responsive and modem matrimonial Act sympathetic to spouses whose contribution to the matrimonial property cannot be quantified.
To correct historical injustices, the land policy seeks to go as far back as 1895 when Kenya became a colony under the British. Pastoralists will benefit from the repeal of the Group Representatives Act so that individual rights are recognized yet ensure they maintain their unique land use.
At the Coast, the Government will make an inventory of its land at the 10-mile strip, and vest it under com-munities, which will hold it in trust for the residents. Currently, much land at the Coast is in the hands of powerful families, some absent landlords, who charge ground rent.
Some of the land is idle and thousands of people who live on it are squatters. At the same time, the Government hopes to establish public plots along the coast for recreation, and open up access roads to the beach. The construction of walls along the high water mark will be regulated.