Effects of land tenure reform on women's access to and control of land for food production in Mumbuni Location Of Eastern Kenya

This is a study on effects of land tenure reform on women's access to and control of land for food production. The study was conducted among women smallholder farmers in Mumbuni Location of Machakos District. The main objective of the study was to find out whether land tenure reform has had a positive or negative effect on land ownership by women. The study also wanted to assess benefits women have reaped from the reform and the effects this has had on household food production. Specifically the study wanted to find out the following: The effects of land tenure reform on women's decision-making power as regards agricultural production. The impact of land tenure reform on the division of labour taking into consideration monetary and subsistence production at the household level. Field work was done between April 1997 and March 1998. Data were collected through a structured questionnaire together with focused group discussions and in-depth case studies. The questionnaire has been desegregated, ana lysed quantitatively and presented in the form of tables. On the other hand, data from focused group discussions and individual case studies were subjected to qualitative and descriptive analysis. The study arrived at the following four main findings: Registration of titles to land is being done in the names of the 'heads of the family' and family land is being transferred almost exclusively to male individuals. Land titles are registered either in the name of husband, son, father or grandfather. Women remain disadvantaged as regards freedom to manage and use family land. The introduction of cash crops, especially coffee, has brought about changes in land use in the way land is controlled and how decisions are made. This is now based on the supremacy of the male head of the household. Land tenure reform has increased women's workload substantially. The majority of women have to work first in their husbands coffee farms before proceeding to their food farms. Women combine agricultural work with reproductive domestic labour and off-farm activities, which are fundamental to the survival of farming households. They have few alternatives to generate incomes outside farming as a result of the workload they experience in providing family labour. Food produced is generally consumed by household members while cash earned from coffee is generally controlled and distributed by men. In this new mode of production, women find themselves both subordinated to the household income and marginalised. Land tenure reform has biased all agricultural incentives, credit., cooperative membership and extension services in favour of cash crop production and the men who are land owners. Women have generally not benefited from the objectives of land tenure reform since they have not acquired the rights, which would enable them to raise productivity and increase their Incomes. VI In light of the above findings, this study recommends that the government should have a land policy, which effectively empowers women through legal means and provides security in their rights in land. In this respect there should be a land bill, which attends to gender inequity in land tenure. The initial efforts must be undertaken by women's organisations to make the issue of women's land rights visible, challenge the patriarchal status quo and provide educational information regarding women's rights to family property.