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Unleashing the Transformative Power of Science to Address Key Sources of Conflict in Kenya

What can science do in the context of one of the main causes of conflict in Kenya?

For an extensive period, land-related issues have consistently fueled conflicts within communities, including families, across Kenya. The surge in land fraud cases compounds this challenge. As highlighted in the Justice Needs and Satisfaction Survey conducted by the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law, land disputes impact a significant portion of the Kenyan population, numbering between 2.4 and 2.8 million individuals. These disputes manifest in various detrimental outcomes, such as injuries, loss of life and property, displacements, illegal structure demolitions, the proliferation of informal settlements, land grabbing, encroachments on both private and government land reserves, ethnic tensions, the proliferation of counterfeit title deeds, and protracted court cases. Beyond the immediate human toll, these conflicts disrupt the seamless execution of activities crucial to the country’s economic development, introducing delays and impeding progress at both the individual and macroeconomic levels.

Culturally, land ownership is a valued indicator of one’s socioeconomic status in Kenya; with the classification of the rural poor being done according to their access to agricultural land. A major cause of these land conflicts therefore is scarcity of highly valued resources which necessitates ‘marking of territory’ as individuals and communities strive to protect their ‘wealth’ as well as benefit from the ecosystem services and resources drawn from land; like food. Science provides a unique point of view that may assist in solving this type of conflict. For instance, scientists have proposed strategies like trade-offs that lead to win–win situations where an increase in one service is associated with an increase in other services; like in the case of moderate grazing of rangelands, as opposed to overgrazing. What results is increased forage production and conservation of species while reducing soil erosion (E. Sala, How Scientists Can Help End the Land-Use Conflict).

The AMAYA Project; a Rangelands Ecosystem Services Productivity (RangER) Programme has been addressing land and conservation issues in the four AMAYA Counties of Samburu, Baringo, Laikipia, and Isiolo through investment in evidence–based climate – smart feed resources, tree, wildlife and natural resource–based livelihood sustenance approaches through innovative, collaborative efforts resulting to increased productivity of ecosystem services offered by rangelands and consequently, improved peace in the region(s).

In West Pokot, the Ustahimilivu project is pursuing the application of Geospatial Information Science (GIS) to enhance the intervention on land use, food security, and resilience to climate shocks while the Drought Resilient Isiolo County Project is adopting climate-smart technologies for agriculture.

When it comes to land fraud issues, My Shamba Digital, founded by Robert Muoka – an advocate of the High Court of Kenya with experience in law and technology, is harnessing the power of science and technology through Real Estate Tokenization. This is a cutting-edge concept that converts the value of real estate into digital tokens stored on a blockchain. It means that land ownership can be represented and transferred digitally; which makes transactions even more transparent, accessible, and cost-effective. This innovation minimizes the potential for fraud and land disputes.

The increased efforts with positive results are an endorsement of the power of science in providing solutions at the grassroots level and all levels for peace and development.


By Wanjiru Kaburu

Communication & Marketing Lead, E4Impact Kenya


The AMAYA Ranger, DRIC, and Ustahimilivu are European Union-sponsored projects with E4Impact as one of the implementing partners.

My Shamba Digital is an E4Impact Incubator alumni startup