By Joseph K. Mwangi, Head/Public Communications unit

Nairobi, Friday, 31 March 2017…The World Bank AnnualLand and Poverty Conference ended in Washington D.C, USAlast weekwith most presenters highlightingchallenges posed to developing nations by big mining and agricultural industries that are using technology to gain access to remote regions.

This year’s focus was on the role of data and evidence for realizing land policy reform, identify strategies for working at scale and monitoring achievements

The theme of the conference was “Responsible land governance: Towards and evidence- based approach.”

The World Bank Annual International conference on land and poverty presents the latest research and practice on the diversity of reforms, interventions, and innovations in the land sector around the world

The conference has become one of the largest international events on land governance, attracting participants from governments, academics, civil society, and the private sector.

This year’sconference looked back over the decade since the land grab “hype” began, analyzing the processes of transformations that have taken place in those locations where investments have been made and revisiting peoples understanding of the implications of these investment flows for food security, rural livelihoods and local development.

The conference also accessed new challenges in the field, such as land governance in the context of climate change and increasing urbanization, and land in relation to the SDGs, using existing knowledge to set the land agenda to 2030 and ensure no one is left behind.

The 2017 conference took the all-encompassing SDGs as a starting point to explore how land governance can contribute to meeting these targets, and ultimately help to end poverty in all its forms and provide people with secure and equal access to land.

Topics highlighted during the conference include: food security; infrastructure development; displacement, migration and mobility; compensation and resettlement; cities and urban expansion; inclusive development; conflict and competing claims; natural resources and environmental protection; gender and generation; and administration and technologies; and climate change and resilence, among others.

Researchers say indigenous peoples and campaigners working with them are harnessing technology as well as to expose illegal deforestation or land use and seek remedies and justice.

“Research is significant to help backup indigenous communities claims that there are the best custodians of global forests.” Says the Researchers.”

Some critics claim that remote tropical foreststaken care of by indigenous groups are protected due to a lack of development pressure rather than good management techniques.

“An estimated 15% of the world’s forest cover remains untouched.” the delegates heard.

Delegates were told that the vast gap in documentation of land gap impedes access to opportunities and key services for millions of the world’s poorest people contribute to gender inequality and environmental sustainability.

Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo told the conference that more than half of the world countries deny women the ability to own, inherit or manage land by law or custom.

“There is arguably no single intervention as powerful as legally documenting, formalizing strengthening woman’s land rights to transform a woman’s status, voice and economic prospects”, said Chief Obasanjo.

Chief Obasanjo who is now the new World Bank-Africa group chairman said that land and property were at the center of many of today’s development challenges and that only 10 per cent of land in rural Africa is reliably registered.

Only 10% of land in rural Africa and 30% of land globally is documented the gap is the cause of widespread change and dysfunction around the world, the delegates heard.

Kenya’s Land and Physical Planning CS, Prof Jacob Kaimenyi was represented at the week-long Conference by the immediate former lands Principal Secretary, Arch. Mariam el Maawy.

Arch. el Maawy presented a paper titled; The E-MIGRATION: One year on … She said that that scanning and digitization of land records in 14 land registries across the country had been concluded as of March 30th, this year. The PS said 2.3 land records had been scanned adding that 1.7 million land parcels and 500,000 records are actually continuity records of various land parcels among 1.7 million land parcels.

“The period between 2017-2018 will see a further 20 registries digitized and 10 new registries established and during the period 2018-2019, the remaining 20 registries will be digitized.” She said.

The lands Ministry team also presented a paper entitled;” Land for Infrastructure Development: Compulsory Acquisition and Compensation of Undocumented of Unregistered/ Undocumented Land in Kenya” and another one entitled “Landregistration data standards,interoperability and data access in Kenya.”17308870_992719767525196_10780995514928383_n 17499000_992719670858539_3930517070773671137_n