Lamu, KENYA: The National Lands Commission-NLC has successfully secured seven key water catchment areas that had been grabbed in Lamu County.
The seven include the Shella sand dunes, Kiongwe sand dunes, Mbelembele Swamp, Chomo Swamp in Hindi, Lake Kenyatta in Mpeketoni, Amu Ranch and Kibokoni Ranch.
While the majority of the water catchments had already been grabbed by individuals, others were at risk of facing the same fate forcing the NLC to intervene and secure them for gazettement.
All the seven water catchment zones are located in Lamu West Sub-County.
Speaking on Monday, NLC chair Muhammad Swazuri said the seven had already been handed over to the Water Resource Management Authority-WRMA for preservation and management.
Swazuri said the commission was also in the process of preparing title deeds for all the seven catchments in order to protect them from grabbers.
“We have managed to secure all the water catchment areas in Lamu County. We handed them over to WRMA. The authority will soon be releasing a report on the same. In the meantime, NLC is in the process of preparing titles for all the water catchment areas in Lamu. We will be issuing those title deeds any time from now. Our key objective is to have the catchment areas well protected for the benefit of the public,” said Swazuri.
The Shella and Kipungani sand dunes are the only freshwater reservoirs serving over 10,000 residents of Lamu Island.
Swazuri said grabbing of water catchment areas and subsequent mismanagement leading to water shortages was a rampant practice in Kenya.
He said the NLC shall continue to partner with the WRMA to ensure all water towers in Lamu and the rest of the country are conserved and protected.
“We have begun mapping out and gazetting the water catchments across the country. That’s the only solution to end grabbing of those zones by selfish individuals,” said Swazuri.
Lamu County continues to face massive historical land injustices top among them being land grabbing considering the fact that over 60 percent of Lamu lands are yet to be surveyed and owners issued with title deeds.
The trend has seen the county continue to record increased population of squatters.
Swazuri, however, vowed that the commission shall do everything possible to resolve land injustices in Lamu majorly by ensuring every landowner gets their own title deed.