Nature Kenya has learned that the National Land Commission (NLC) plans to push ahead with the controversial allocation of 6,763.74 ha of Yala Swamp to Lake Agro Ltd despite sustained objections from communities and other stakeholders.
The intended move by NLC grossly violates the rights and betrays the trust of indigenous Yala communities - the rightful custodians of the communal land, compromises the communities' livelihoods and threatens the wetland's unique biodiversity.
In their Yala Swamp Determination paper 74, NLC says that the Siaya County Government applied to allocate the parcels of land to Lake Agro Ltd with a contested Part Development Plan and Survey Plans. The commission acknowledges that public participation concerns were raised during the planning process.
As part of its determination on the matter, NLC instructs the Siaya County Government to submit to it, within two weeks, detailed evidence of multi-stakeholder, inclusive and meaningful public participation in the planning process. It is well known to NLC that the surveys done by the Siaya County Government on the parcels allocated to Lake Agro Ltd were dubiously conducted, with little input from the communities. As such, any request for evidence of the same by NLC equates to insincerity, trivialisation of the issue, and betrayal of trust bestowed on them by the communities.
A land-use plan for Yala Swamp is in place. The Yala Delta Land Use Plan (LUP) was developed collaboratively by Yala Swamp stakeholders and the Siaya and Busia counties governments. Both governors from the two counties endorsed the plan. The Busia County Assembly went further and adopted the LUP as a policy. Yala communities recognize the LUP as a negotiated framework that guides the sustainable use of resources within the wetland and surrounding areas. Yala communities wonder why the allocation in the PDP varies significantly with the LUP recommendations.
During the public hearings conducted by NLC, 21 entities, including community, civic and governmental organizations, presented strong objections to the proposed allocation. Their grounds for objections were rooted in human rights violations, threats to community livelihoods, habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity, as captured in NLC's paper. But, the NLC, has ignored all the objections. Who is NLC representing? The people or the developer?
Kenyans expect NLC to make a decision that respects the constitutional ownership rights of the communities in Yala, recognizes the ecological value of Yala Swamp, and promotes the preservation of the wetland for prosperity. Anything short of these minimal expectations is unacceptable and must be rejected.
What you can do to support the people of Yala Swamp
We urge you all to stand with the Yala Swamp communities in objecting the planned allocation of the wetland to a private developer. You can support by:
- Signing our petition here: https://bit.ly/3beRngg or;
- Submitting objection letters to the Chairman of the National Land Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org), Cabinet Secretary Lands (P.O. Box 30450 – 00100 Nairobi or email@example.com), Cabinet Secretary Environment (P.O. Box 30126 – 00100 Nairobi or firstname.lastname@example.org) and copy to the Siaya County Government (P.O. Box 803 – 40600 Siaya or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).