A new chapter for community monitoring: women’s land rights in Kenya
December 15, 2022
We are excited to announce RFUK’s partnership with TMG Think Tank and Kenya Land Alliance, along with their local partners Taita Taveta Human Rights Watch, Sauti ya wanawake, and Shibuye Community Health Workers, to launch a new project aimed at helping rural women in Kenya report abuses and threats to their land rights.
While favourable laws have been passed in recent years to protect women’s rights to own, use and manage land in Kenya, deeply ingrained patriarchal norms and a general lack of awareness of those rights mean that in practice, women are often still evicted from their land if their husbands die or leave. They also face difficulties claiming inherited land, and are unlawfully left out of property titles as well.
This past November, RFUK met with project partners in Nairobi for a 5-day workshop to share knowledge and experiences on the complexities of documenting human rights abuses such as these and especially in cases of gender-based violence, and together, they co-designed an innovative digital tool called Haki Ardhi that will be a powerful new instrument in the the fight for women’s land rights.
With Haki Ardhi, women will be able to report abuses and violations in a safe way that will also enable faster access to support, and local organisations supporting them will be able to digitise the case files that they currently have on paper, enabling a close follow up on cases and the centralisation and display of data to identify trends and push for systemic policy change.
This initiative builds on the success of RFUK’s community-based monitoring programme ForestLink, which has allowed remote communities across the Congo Basin to report illegal activities on their lands, resulting in ground-breaking contributions to improving forest governance and justice for rural peoples. While ForestLink is mostly app-based, a key area of technical development in this project is the set-up of a simple text message interface for users who do not own smartphones. This will significantly amplify the reach of ForestLink not only in Kenya, but in all the countries where RFUK works.
By adapting ForestLink to monitor threats to women’s land rights in Kenya, RFUK is not only expanding into a new country, but also unleashing the potential of community-based monitoring as a tool for enhancing and supporting civic participation and human rights more generally. We are very excited about this new project, and looking forward to the next stage of work rolling out Haki Ardhi in 2023 - watch this space for more developments soon!
This work is done in partnership with Kenya Land Alliance, TMG and Rainforest Foundation UK and with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.