Turkana County has joined select counties in Kenya that benefit from a Geographical Information System (GIS) laboratory established by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro led FAO Country Representative Gabriel Rugalema in the launch of the lab that will be hosted at the County Ministry of Lands, Energy, Housing and Urban Areas Management. The system will support the County Government in digitisation of records related to land.

Speaking during the launch DG Lotethiro said the system will enable the County Government develop digital data register which will support better decision making, planning, implementation and monitoring of development programmes. 

“The GIS lab is great milestone in administration of land related matters and will be an important tool in development. The digitisation of records will also support revenue collection as it gives us layout of businesses at the touch of a button.”

He said the system which was developed through funding by the European Union (EU) will be critical in food security programmes, reduce land related conflicts and support spatial planning of urban areas by the County Government. 

On urban planning the DG said GIS will be used in the development of Lodwar Municipality and the future Kakuma/Kalobeyei Municipality to monitor growth and expansion to ensure maintain order. He stated that the County intended to develop spatial planning for the entire county.

He insisted that the data developed through the lab will be crucial to private developers who had an interest in investing in the county.

DG Lotethiro commended the partnership with FAO under the Land Governance Programme whose main goal is to enhance food security through better land management. The programme is being implemented in seven other counties including Tana River, West Pokot, Marsabit, Samburu, Laikipia, Nandi and Baringo.

He called for a continuation of this partnership to develop the capacity of County Government staff to manage the system and registry that whose construction is set to be completed this financial year.

FAO Representative in Kenya Dr. Gabriel Rugalema said the GIS lab was part of the organization’s support to ASALs counties to enhance “equitable and secure access and management of land for improved livelihoods and socioeconomic development in the framework of Vision 2030”. He added that the system will help limit conflicts over boundaries between counties.

EU Country Representative David Mwangi termed the launch a milestone in enhancing digital access to land information for better land administration; and expressed hope that more youth and women will be involved in use of the system.

County Executive for Lands Dr. Anthony Apalia said land for the Lodwar Municipality fire station has been identified, with a fire engine procured by the County Government to be availed within two months. He assured a public sensitization exercise will be carried out before decongestion of urban centers already planned begin in September.

In the launch were a host of MCAs led by Willy Nalimo who is the Chairman of the County Assembly Committee on Lands, Chief Officer for Lands Joshua Lemuya, FAO’s Project Manager for Land Governance Programme Husna Mbarak as well as representatives of the National Land Commission (NLC) and the Council of Governors.