New Publication: Large Infrastructure Projects and Cascading Land Grabs – The Case of Northern Kenya

By Evelyne Owino (Project B03 Violent Futures), Kennedy Mkutu (Project B03 Violent Futures) and Charis Enns.


From around the beginning of the current millennium, East Africa has been experiencing a wave of large-scale infrastructure expansion. Moreover, in anticipation of the new and improved market linkages that major infrastructure projects promise to bring, a rush to grab land alongside new and recently upgraded transport infrastructure routes is taking place. There is a growing body of research that documents the increasing prevalence of land grabs for infrastructure development. However, so far, less attention has been paid to other forms of land grab that inevitably follow in the wake of new infrastructure development as land alongside new and upgraded infrastructure routes becomes more valuable and desirable. In this chapter, we show how an ongoing transport infrastructure boom in northern Kenya is resulting in a wider cascade of land grabs. Various actors – including government agencies, foreign and domestic investors, and national and local elites – are acquiring land alongside upgraded infrastructure routes while existing rural land users are attempting to secure their access to land and ward off potential land grabbers. Ultimately, we argue that the frenzy of interest in land alongside newly upgraded transport routes drives a cascade of land tenure and use change, multiplying the effects that new infrastructure projects have on land.


Owino, E., Mkutu, K., Enns, C. 2023. Large Infrastructure Projects and Cascading Land Grabs: The Case of Northern Kenya, in Neef, A., Ngin, C., Moreda, T., Mollett, S. (eds) 2023.  Routledge Handbook of Global Land and Resource Grabbing, Routledge, New York. Full Text

More CRC News

A cover image for the research initiative "sharing a planet in peril"

Research Initiative 2023: Sharing a Planet In Peril

The interrelated crises associated with Global Environmental Change (GEC) – including biodiversity loss, climate change and the depletion of soils and waters – are mounting
Read More »
Cover Image with the Logo of Future Rural Africa and the DKG 2023

The Promises and Perils of Infrastructure – Envisioning Desirable Futures in the Global South: Future Rural Africa at DKG ’23

The German Geography Association “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geographie (DGfG)” and the Institutes of Physical Geography and Institute of Human Geography at Frankfurt University are conducting
Read More »

Publication: Hope and Path Development in ‘Left-Behind’ Places – a Southern Perspective

By Gideon Tups, Enock Sackala and Peter Dannenberg, Project C01 Future in Chains. AbstractDespite universalising ambition, the literature on ‘left-behind’ places is dominated by viral,
Read More »

Can Conservation and Agriculture Work together for Inclusive Regional Development in the Zambezi Region?

Blog Post by Carolin Hulke, Project C01 “Future in Chains”. Future Rural Africa Subproject C01 “Future in Chains” studies socio-ecological transformation in cross-border growth corridors,
Read More »

Publication: Bursting Pipes and Broken Dreams – On Ruination and Reappropriation of Large-Scale Water Infrastructure in Baringo County, Kenya

By David Greven, Project C02 “Energy Futures” Abstract In the course of Kenya’s Vision 2030 development plan, the Kenyan Northern Rift Valley recently became the
Read More »
Scroll to Top