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Is Adjudication in Isiolo a Bane or a Boon?

By Halkano Galma

The Legal Notice No. 150 should be clearly interpreted for the leaders/professionals by competent land lawyers and the full ramifications/implications of the ‘proposed adjudication unraveled by the participants and the larger public who should be equally engaged.

The Legal Notice No. 150 is clearly an act of illegality and contravenes the provisions of the Constitution and Community Land Act. It aims to ‘decommmunitize’ the Land rights that is profusely and profoundly protected by the supreme law of the land. It reverses the gains made by transitioning of the trust land to community land. Unless it is stopped the pastoral communities are on the brink of the precipice as everything communal or collective is bound to be lost.IMG-20191023-WA0001

The Legal Notice 150 seems to have been sneaked through administrative channels without engaging the public as required by the law. There is a prospect of some political cartels that are hell-bent to disinherit the pastoralists in favour of sedentarized communities.

Are other administrative processes like the appointment of adjudicating officers  actualised?. It is important to read the motives of the government by identifying where these officers are appointed from. Adjudication is a legal instrument which is exploitative in nature as it expropriates the rights of the customary holders of the land targeted for adjudication.


In Kenya, the historical damages caused by land adjudication in pastoral areas is evidently demonstrated by the indelible victim-hood of the Massai in the 1970s and later years as their displacement became the norm rather than the exception. The case of Mosiro and Loodoriak vividly comes to mind. Since those early years, the practice has become the ‘new normal in pushing the pastoralists off their land to create more space for the expansionist farmers and land speculators.

Is this new development a change of tact meant to go round the case that pitted Isiolo against Meru in which the latter has been making insistent claims on part of Isiolo which is erroneously touted as boundary disputes as opposed to a land grab by the Meru County. The recent pronouncement by the Meru Governor that Kenya Bureau of Statistics which recently conduct national census ostensibly and mistakenly counted community in Ngaremara as part of Isiolo rather than Meru.

Adjudication by its very nature and character are in contradistinction of the constitutionally framed principles of the community land rights. It is equally against the principles and provision of the Community Land Act. This means the drive towards the adjudication of what is intricately pastoral and communal is against the highest attainment of pastoralists land rights and sustainable security of their land.


Adjudication was employed as the legal means to elevate Europeans land acquisition in the colonial Kenya which was elaborately adopted by the post-independence governments to perpetuate the principle of private and individualised land ownership in conformity with capitalist economic ideology. It was idolized by the pioneer political leaders such as Mboya and Kibaki who singularly authored the (in) famous Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965. The paper in conjunction with other post-independent government policy aimed to stifle non-agrarian livelihoods systems, particularly pastoralism.

Adjudication which in common parlance presumes the existence of conflicts between competing interests or parties. It has been historically camouflaged as a mechanism for ascertaining access and rights to land through a process that involves identification and demarcation of land. The aim of the process is to parcel out communal land into smaller pieces that could be amalgamated into ‘bundles of rights’ that inevitably and fundamentally alter the geophysical feature of communal or community land.

Adjudication will without exaggeration will have a perpetual effect on socio-economic, political and even psychological impact of the individual and community affected by its application.

Adjudication as a process of land administration in Kenya was an old practice in agricultural society that was later perfected in Maa speaking counties such as Kajiado and Samburu. The counties that formerly belonged to NFD have yet to experience land adjudication. Is Isiolo being prepared to set the stage for the northern region? There is no doubt that with the incessant land and boundary conundrum since the early 1990s between Isiolo and Meru, Isiolo is increasingly and incredibly viewed as a soft spot for an aggressive alteration of pastoralism for the benefits of non- pastoralists.

Also read:  7 more Covid-19 cases traced to first fatality in Isiolo County

Finally, it is important to draw an analogy between the proposed land adjudication in Isiolo to development history in Kenya. As a consequence of the lopsided colonial and post-independence governments policy strategy and practice, the former NFD and the rest of so called low potential areas suffered development deficits for more than a century.

The successive governments used their financial, technological, security and human resources muscles not only to deliberately undermine development of the region but adopted a combatant to political approach to arrest its growth.

The current debate undoubtedly fits into this tragic historical trend that is unsparingly employed by government to continuously shrink opportunity for growth in predominantly pastoral counties like Isiolo. This illegal Legal Notice must be nipped in the bud.

Halkano Galma is the Deputy Party Leader Civic Renewal Party(CRP) whose Party Leader is the current Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa iria

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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