Projects breed tensions on Lamu land ownership

Projects breed tensions on Lamu land ownership

Too poor to buy land where they grew up on the palm-fringed south Coast, Sylvester Jefua and his wife migrated 300km northwards to Witu Forest in Lamu county, where they felled seven acres of trees and built a mud and thatch house for their family.

Ten years later, Jefua, 36, still does not feel secure.

Land prices are soaring as the government buys up thousands of acres for a new road, port, coal plant, airport and railway line — and Jefua doesn’t have a title deed. Last year, a developer served him and other villagers in Witu, with eviction notices.

“It was a nightmare,” he said. “Where do you settle your family after almost 10 years of what they have called home?” The government intervened to protect them, and promised, yet again, to issue the villagers with title deeds.

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