Impacts of Sale of Family Land on Rural Livelihoods: North Alego Location, Siaya District, Kenya.


This study set out to find out the prevalence of sale of family land and its impacts on the livelihoods of the people of North Alego location in Siaya District of Kenya.  The study area is one of the poorest in the District with poverty levels above the national average of 46%.  The main occupation was found to be subsistence agriculture.  The area has neither cash crops nor industries so land is a major resource.  Consequently the research strove to find out if the returns from the sale of the main resource has had a positive impact on their lives by moving them above the poverty line. The research used household questionnaires to bring out the prevalence, reasons and impacts of the practice on those who had sold land.  The quality of life/well being judged by using the characteristics of poverty as documented by the central bureau of statistics in Kenya. The vulnerable groups that are women and youth were also interviewed to find out their opinion on the practice.  Discussions were held with some District Heads of Department in Siaya District.  The laws and policies that apply to land use and land transfers in the area were analysed to find out why the area has remained rooted in poverty fourty four years after independence despite several government policies addressing development in rural areas and poverty reduction.  The study found out that the sale of family land in the area was common but were mostly distress sales due to lack of any other source of income to address immediate family needs like school fees, medical and even funeral expenses.  The prices of land sold were too low to make any significant positive change on families lives on the long run.  There was no significant difference between the quality of life of those who had sold the land and those who had not except that the sellers had less land and had not solve all their financial problems or climbed out of poverty.  Finally the study suggested policy measures that can be put in place to address sustainable land use in the area and help the community climb out of poverty without necessarily getting rid of the only resource they have. The study suggested that the concerned authorities should not leave the land market in subsistence agriculture areas to the concept of willing buyer willing seller as a desperate seller can accept  any price without thinking of the next generation or of long term solutions to lack of monetary income.


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