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Judge calls for homegrown solutions to resolve land disputes

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Principal Judge of the Environment and Land Court (ELC) Oscar Angote during the ELC Open Day and tree planting in Korogocho

Communities should find homegrown solutions to land disputes by leveraging initiatives such as the recently established Nairobi Land Justice Working Group, the Principal Judge of the Environment and Land Court (ELC) Oscar Angote has urged.

Speaking on Thursday during the ELC Open Day and tree planting in Korogocho, Justice Angote said the working group is tasked with delving into comprehensive initiatives for enhancing land justice in Nairobi City County.

“The working group intends to undertake this through innovative people centred approaches such as Alternative Justice Systems and Court Annexed Mediation.

The working group will also engage the public and stakeholders in consultative sessions to ensure that their voices are heard and their concerns addressed,” he told a town hall meeting with the local community at the Daniel Comboni Primary School in Korogocho.

The Open Day and tree planting event in Nairobi run concurrently in 40 counties where the Environment and Land Court has a presence countrywide.

Justice Angote observed that the working group has developed guidelines and an action plan with rigorous monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in place and remains confident that this collaborative and comprehensive approach will yield tangible results.

He noted that Nairobi County, as the economic hub of Kenya, and the region holds immense potential for growth and prosperity but also faces unique challenges related to land use, planning and environmental degradation.

“A similar initiative in respect to the Environment and Planning Division will be launched by the Chief Justice on 5th June, 2024.

Justice Angote had led a team of ELC judges and staff in several tree planting initiatives on the banks of Nairobi River within Korogocho, the third largest informal settlement in Nairobi.

He reiterated the need for urgent effective environmental management and sustainable land use practices, which the court would strive to uphold in the face of recent flooding within the capital city and especially informal settlements where lives have been lost.

“As we gather amidst these wet conditions, and rivers breaching their banks it reminds us of the interconnectedness between our legal system and the environment,” Justice Angote stated.

The Environment and Land Court is tasked with resolving disputes surrounding security of land rights, sustainable management of natural resources, sound conservation and protection of ecologically sensitive areas, elimination of gender discrimination in land and encouraging communities to settle land disputes through local community initiatives.

“Over the past 11 years, we have witnessed remarkable achievements in the administration of environment and land justice. The court has reduced its case backlog from 30,000 cases in 2014/2015 to 16,000 in 2021/2022,” he told the gathering.

“As custodians of environmental and land justice, we are committed to applying the law diligently, guided by the principles of equity and sustainability. We aim to promote fair and timely resolution of disputes while advocating for responsible stewardship of our natural resources,” Justice Angote assured the locals.

The Principal Secretary in the State Department for Devolution Teresia Mbaika who joined the tree planting and addressed the gathering described the collaboration with the Environment and Land Court as vital, because it did not just involve planting trees, but was also sowing well cultured communities.

“The government advocates for an inclusive approach to strategize on how best to solve issues affecting its people,” PS Mbaika underscored.

KBC Digital
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