Ibrahim Mwathane: “Land reforms and the geospatial space”

“Practitioners in the geospatial industry must, besides attending to the routine technical details of what they do, take interest and participate in what’s happening at policy and political level, in effect, the political economy of their respective jurisdictions. Without this…” Editor’s pick. 

About Ibrahim Mwathane

ibrahim-mwathaneHe is currently the Chairman of the Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI), having previously had the opportunity to provide professional leadership support at different moments as below:- Chairman, Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) Convenor, Professional Ethics and Integrity Committee of the Association of Professional Societies in East Africa(APSEA), Chairman, Land Sector Board, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Chairman, Technical Working Group, Land Information Management System, Land Reform Transformation Unit, Ministry of Lands, Resource Person/Consultant, Continental Land Policy Initiative (LPI), Holding a Bachelor’s degree training in Surveying and Photogrammetry at the University of Nairobi then a Masters degree course in Cadastre and Land Information Management in the then University of East London in the UK, Ibrahim has since worked for the Republic of Kenya, the State Ministry of Lands and Settlement as a quality control officer at the Head office, field work and office management in Nyeri and Kiambu Counties(then Districts) and thereafter took charge of Nairobi County, then Province. He joined private practice on resignation and has since developed an interest in land reform and land governance aspects.

You are the chair of the Land Development and Governance Institute Board of Directors, what does LDGI do? What is your overall vision?

Ans: LDGI helps to bridge/link policy makers with policy implementers and communities through research which feeds into policy and law. It also does so through capacity building of land sector stakeholders at national and county level and also through evidence-based advocacy.

What are some of the milestone achievement that you’ve been able to make over the time?

Ans: We have managed to :-

  • Influence policy content and all the new land laws (Land, Land Registration, National Land Commission, Land Laws (Amendment) and Community Land Acts)
  • Drive an aggressive peace campaign dubbed Ardhi na Amani Kenya to promote peace countrywide prior to the 2013 general election
  • Organized capacity building/training forums for the national land commission, some county governments, land professionals, the media and community groups
  • Undertaken research on Land Information Management Systems, Large Scale Land Acquisitions and other specific themes
  • Consistently monitored the implementation of Kenya’s land policy, constitution and laws through a scorecard tool.

You have worked with numerous major organization, FAO, Sida, UNECA, AfDB and World Bank, how would you say their contribution has improved to the sector of Land Administration if at all?

Ans: These institutions have partnered with either government or local stakeholders to support local land sector initiatives and facilitated access to technical expertise from outside Kenya.

What would you propose as a near permanent solution to the land conflicts in Kenya?

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Ans: Land Conflicts will continue to be due to competition for access to land, water, pasture, and other land uses. These can be managed with good legal frameworks that clearly spell individual and group rights and obligations and their fair and firm enforcement.

There has been a lot of speculations on the Community Land Act and how it could change land management in communal areas. What’s your view on this Act? What are some of the new exciting things it introduces?

Ans: The recognition, identification, mapping, registration and protection of group/community land is a good feature.The success of this will however, hang around the competencies, integrity and transparency of the governance organs established under the Act and the support of county government on land use planning and management.  There is rapid advancement in the geospatial industry especially on equipment, software and generally data acquisition techniques.

How will these technological advancements transform the Survey process especially for land rights recordation?

Ans: These modern advances will greatly ease data collection and processing and make world nations bring vast territories of previously unmapped/unrecorded and unregistered land under official state registers for easier/faster land use planning and the management and exploitation of natural resources. This therefore, places the survey process in the center of critical development programmes hence lifts the surveying profession to greater eminence.

You’re a seasoned professional in the whole arena of Survey, would you care to comment of the situation of ethics in the Geospatial Industry.

Ans: Ethics in the industry has been gradually deteriorating. This is one area in which our local professional and regulatory bodies must give priority attention lest the broader gains offered by technological advancement and improved policy space are undermined by unethical practices.

Perhaps you can give us a last word for the industry 

Practitioners in the geospatial industry must, besides attending to the routine technical details of what they do, take interest and participate in what’s happening at policy and political level, in effect, the political economy of their respective jurisdictions. Without this, they will remain inevitably restricted by the respective political decisions, policies and laws made without their input.