Call to decentralize land services

The MAP Liberia Land Platform concluded a major national land conference in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, where participants called on stakeholders through a GBEHZOHN statement to prioritize to the coordination and decentralization of land services, to improve the facilitation of formalization processes and to continue to provide financial support to the land sector.

The conference was held from March 1-3, 2022, aimed at assessing progress in the implementation of Liberia’s Land Rights Act of 2018.

During the conference, stakeholders from the land and agricultural sectors from across Liberia gathered in the town of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, to review the progress made so far in the implementation of Liberian law. on land rights.

The National Land Conference, which brought together 344 participants (121 women and 223 men) including international guests from other brotherly African countries, Europe and the United States, was held under the theme: Celebration of three years of the Liberian Land Rights Act.

Liberia passed the enactment of a new land rights law in October 2018. Following the enactment of the new law, the Liberia Lands Authority (LLA), in collaboration with civil society organizations (CSOs) , other government authorities, policy makers and international partners , has taken some good steps towards the implementation of the law.

Early achievements include developing an implementation strategy and standardized messages for disseminating the law, drafting regulations and guidelines, carrying out pilot community land formalization programs and capacity building training for selected actors in the land sector – mainly government and CSOs, as well as the development of systems and processes for land administration and management.

While progress has been made so far through collective efforts, it is also important to note that the implementation of the LRA has been hampered by a series of challenges. These challenges relate to the practical, legal, institutional and procedural aspects of the effective implementation of the LRA on the one hand, and also rely on deeply rooted traditional and customary practices on the other. In the context of widespread food and land insecurity in the existence of our history, the enactment of the LRA and the initial progress are only the first steps in a long and complex process at hand.

On this basis, the MAP Liberia Land Platform, a coordination platform for the land sector in Liberia, co-convened by the government and CSOs, organized the major land conference to take stock of the successes achieved so far in the implementation of the law, analyze and highlight challenges, identify opportunities and generate recommendations and commitments to move forward.

The planning and execution of the conference was carried out by its National Organizing Committee (NOC) and its Technical Organizing Committee (TOC). The NOC comprised the Liberia Lands Authority (LLA), the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the University of Liberia College of Agriculture and Forestry and the Liberia MAP Platform Secretariat.

The NOC provided overall policy direction to the National Land Conference and worked in conjunction with the various conference structures. While the table of contents which included the 8 themes

groups supported by a logistics committee, a media committee and an organizing secretariat which guided the content aspect of the conference.

On the first day of the conference, official kick-off formalities, including welcoming remarks and an overview of the historic land conference, greetings and messages of solidarity from key agencies and personalities, and presentation of the keynote address opening by Vincent Willie of Grand Bassa County, Chairman of the House Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment. Prior to the opening speech, greetings and messages of solidarity were delivered by the following personalities/institutions: Neil Scott, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Liberia; Ms. Mehnaz Ajmal Paracha, FAO Country Representative; Ms. Vera Kellen, Program Manager, Delegation of the European Union to Liberia; and Excellency Michael A. McCarthy, Ambassador of the United States of America to Liberia.

Others were Urban Siosirom, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden to Liberia; Ralph Timmermann, Ambassador of the Republic of Germany to Liberia; Mr. Kofi Ireland, UN Women in Liberia; Mr. Khwima Nthara, Country Director of the World Bank in Liberia; Mr. Nathaniel B. Walker, Acting Resident Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia (by proxy: Mrs. Irene Wallace); and Mr. Raymond Samndong, Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Reporting Manager, The Tenure Facility.

There were also breakout sessions and high-level plenary discussions on customary land formalization, followed by questions, answers and discussion.

On the second day of the conference, a number of presentations were made, including the presentation of an assessment report: a case study on rural women’s land rights in Liberia – women in cohabitation and presumed marriages, the presentation of a policy brief on women and youth land rights, Official presentation of certificates for the completion of community self-identification (CSI) to communities, Official launch of the USAID-funded project – land management activity, learning from regional and international experiences and frameworks to support land reform in Liberia.

And on the third and final day of the conference, an eight-point resolution – THE GBEHZOHN DECLARATION was presented by the conference delegates, officially read by Madam Muna Kieh of the Liberian Women’s NGO Secretariat – WONGOSOL. She is also a member of the Thematic Working Group on Women and Youth under the MAP Liberia Land Platform.

Gregory M. Roy