Land tenure challenges in Kisumu City, Kenya

Obange, N., & Wagah, G. G. (2019). Land tenure challenges in Kisumu City, Kenya. Net Journal of Social Sciences, 7(4), 85–91. doi:10.30918/njss.74.19.023

Publication type
Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
DOI Title
Land tenure challenges in Kisumu City, Kenya
Net Journal of Social Sciences
Nelson Obange George G. Wagah
Published year



Rapid urbanization often results in land tenure conflicts commonly in urban fringe areas. Overly, this is attributed to lack or in some instance unclear urban planning schemes. Kisumu city, the third largest city in
Kenya has experienced rapid urbanization as a result of high rural-urban human migration in search of informal/informal employment. Consequently Kisumu urban sprawl is highly characterized by gentrification challenges and land tenure disputes in its fringes. The study sought to provide a comprehensive national and local overview of the historical and legal context of land tenure challenges as a result of urbanization in Kenya and Kisumu in particular. The study used document content analysis technique to review records at the lands office and county city planning office. Key informant interview and focus group discussion were conducted on different socio-economic group from the informal settlements of Nyalenda A and B. The studyestablished that land ownership is an emotive issue. There are threetypes of land tenure namely; public, communal and individual land tenure. Further, the study found that urban population pressure and gentrification remain major challenges in Kisumu urban fringe land which were traditionally communally owned. In the two study areas: Nyalenda ‘A’ the population density is 8,953 per sq. km while Nyalenda B has a population density of 6,886 per sq. km, far above most residential areas of the city. The demographic growth in Kisumu is exerting pressure on housing development which typically is extending to the surrounding agricultural hinterlands which traditionally were owned by local communities. Consequently, the traditional communal land use practices such as subsistence farming and cattle herding is under threat of gentrification. According to the study respondents, a stylized continuum from: leaseholds to freehold to community land tenure system would be the best model to resolve land tenure challenges and enhance security of tenure in Nyalenda urban fringe. The study therefore recommend stylized model (model based on public participation) but anchored on the UN-HABITAT model (2008) to resolve conflicts over land tenure arising from Kisumu urban sprawl.


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