Discussion Paper No. 112 of 2010 on Effects of Land Titling on Poverty in Kenya
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Kenya has a 50 year history of ongoing land reform. However, with multiple land tenure systems, including customary and statutory systems, past tenure reforms have not resolved inherent land ownership problems. These problems include weak land administration, inaccurate recording of established occupancy rights, landlessness and land disputes, and disempowerment of women and children through denial of their land rights. Various aspects of land reform have been studied previously, but not in the context of the relationship between security of land tenure and the poverty situation. Poverty levels remain high despite economic progress, owing to various factors, among them weak land rights. Since land is a critical factor of production, prevailing land rights may affect household production and economic welfare. This study examines the potential link between ownership of a title deed as a proxy for land rights and consumption expenditures or poverty. Using a recent household survey data, the effect of ownership of titled land and household poverty as represented by consumption expenditure is tested, while controlling potential endogeneity of the tenure variable. The study assumes that historical weaknesses in management of land allocations, transfers, and registration are expressed in the prevailing challenges such as landlessness and the limited land titling. The results show that ownership of titled land is positively related with higher levels of per adult equivalent household consumption expenditure or equivalently, weak land property rights are positively correlated with poverty. The key finding is that holding a secure title to land helps reduce poverty at the household level. This study holds that by strengthening titling mechanisms and increasing title registrations, one confers real rights for productive use of land in Kenya, and this helps reduce poverty. Specifically, this indicates the importance of hastening the process of title registration through, in some cases, removing or subsidizing the cost of title registration. With the evidence of historical infringement of land ownership rights and related land disputes, the registration reforms ought to be scaled up in conjunction with legal reforms to further protect legitimate rights to land expressed in holding a title deed.
Discussion Paper; Land Titling; Poverty; Kenya
The Discussion Paper Series disseminates results and reflections from ongoing research activities of the Institute’s programmes. The papers are internally refereed and are disseminated to inform and invoke debate on policy issues. Opinions expressed in the papers are entirely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute.
PublisherThe Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA)
SeriesDiscussion Paper No.112 of 2010;
- Discussion Papers