Corruption in the Land Question and Protracted Conflict in Bungoma County, Kenya 1992-2019
Simotwo, Cherotwei Geoffrey
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This study investigated corruption in the land appropriation and protracted conflict in Bungoma County, Kenya 1992-2019. Corruption is defined as bribery, land grabbing and privatization of public land and that is rife in the Kenya’s land sector. In Bungoma County, corruption and political meddling of the land allocation process in the Chepyuk Settlement Scheme has created a perennial crisis and protracted land-based conflict fueled by galvanized intra-ethnic differentiation stemming from historical land injustice. The main objective of this study was to interrogate the relationship between corruption and protracted land-based conflict in Mount Elgon Constituency, Bungoma County. The study sought to provide answers on how corruption influences the process of land allocation, resulting into conflict and watering down peacebuilding initiatives meant to resolve the protracted landbased conflict in Mount Elgon Constituency. The study was anchored on a combination of greed versus grievance theoretical framework together with the theory of ethnic mobilization. The greed and grievance theory defines the problem of land grabbing as selfenrichment while ethnic mobilization theory explained the process by which political elites galvanized intra-ethnic differentiation leading to conflict between the Soy and Mosop clans. The study used a case study design and descriptive survey to describe the characteristics and dynamics of corruption and its relation to land allocation and mobilization of members of the community into armed violence. The target population included residents of Mount Elgon constituency, politicians, members of the National Government Administrative Officers (NGAO), County government officials and the civil society. The sample of one hundred and thirty-seven respondents and twenty-four key informants was drawn from all the six wards of Mount Elgon constituency and adjacent parts of Sirisia and Kabuchai Constituencies who share the burden of the land conflict. Primary data was obtained from these non-partisan and gender sensitive sample. The study used both Qualitative and Quantitative Techniques. Methods of data collection included, questionnaires, Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and Key Informant Interviews (KII). A combination of both primary and secondary sources of data were used. Collected data was interrogated and analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Quantitative data was presented using simple descriptive statistics in the form of bar graphs, tables and pie charts, while qualitative data was analyzed thematically and by use of content analysis along themes that correspond the specific objective of the study. The study found out that politics and endemic corruption that borders on nepotism, sycophancy in the defunct provincial administration and in national government was a major hindrance to fair and transparent land allocation in the region. Moreover, corruption and land conflict in Bungoma County was significant and is the main cause of the simmering and unresolved ethnic tensions in the region. Further, it was found that women especially the widows and those with low income and who by all criterion deserved land allocation were disadvantaged in the distribution of the land. Further, a policy on how to handle land question particularly land hived from gazetted government forest needs to be re-evaluated. Besides, the land question should not be weaponized for political purposes especially during electioneering period. The study recommends that an independent audit be undertaken on the deserving and true ownership of the land to allow settlement of the rightful beneficiaries.