International Land and Forest Tenure Facility (TF) and Liberian partners officially launched a three-year project in Liberia on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. The project is phase II of the TF support to Liberia and is titled: Keeping the Promise, expanding and strengthening community land and forest governance for a sustainable future. It was launched at a local hotel in Monrovia.
It will be implemented in 24 communities that benefited from phase I of the TF support to Liberia. The project will also support 15 new communities bringing the total number of beneficiary communities to 39. The target communities are located in Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Rivergee, and Maryland counties respectively.
The overall objective of the project is "to improve land and forest governance in communities that have formalized their customary collective land rights in Liberia". The US$3.5-million-dollar project will be implemented over a period of 36 months.
During the implementation of the project, Parley Liberia will take the fiduciary responsibilities; Foundation for Community Initiatives (FCI) and Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) will serve as Associate Partners; the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) will provide technical services; MTOB will develop and deliver training modules and the Daylight will design and deliver Public Information Services.
Giving an overview of the project, the Program Coordinator of Parley Liberia, Mr. Nyahn Flomo, said the project title aligns with the overall goal of TF “Indigenous and local communities thrive and expand the sustainable management and protection of their forests and lands across the developing world; the outcomes: collective land and forest rights are clarified, and mechanisms established to secure/exercise tenure rights and address conflicts.”
According to Mr. Flomo, the objective also aligns with all four pillars of the Liberian Government Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD). The Parley Liberia Program Coordinator named them as “Power to the people, economy, and jobs, sustaining the peace, and governance and transparency.”
He further disclosed that at the end of the project, there will be a clear and secure tenure of customary land in 39 communities covering about 683,934 hectares of forest land and 39 CLDMCs' capacity will be improved to implement their mandates among others.
Mr. Flomo further added that beneficiary CLDMCs will be functional and apply basic principles of good governance in their work, and project communities will have title to their Customary Land.
Speaking at the occasion, the Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning, and Reporting Manager of Tenure Facility, Raymond Achu Samndong said they learned lessons during the first phase of the project that prompted their return for phase II.
Samndong said there were three key things his organization really learned from Liberia. He named an effective and vibrant government and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) collaboration, the enactment of progressive property rights instruments, and the involvement of women in the management of national resource management across Liberia.
“Our being here is not by mistake because supporting communities is fundamental to our work. It is now a great transformation that women are now chair ladies of CLDMCs, securing and owning land,” he said.
However, Samndong highlighted some challenges that need serious focus during the implementation of the project. He named the lack of coordination, and delay in communities getting their deeds among others.
He said “How do we help the communities to get their confirmatory surveys, and land use planning; communities want to use their land. We want communities to come out with development plans, this is a collective responsibility.”
Also speaking, Atty. J. Adams Manobah, Chairman of the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) reminded Liberians and international partners that the civil war in Liberia was not only for power, but land as well. “We need to be careful how we handle land issues. We used to hear songs like "Who Owns Papa’s Land?”
The LLA boss lauded the role of CSOs in the passage of the landmark 2018 Liberia’s Land Rights Act (LRA). He quickly acknowledged that it is the sole responsibility of the LLA to implement the law entirely.
The LLA boss said “Protected areas should have a deed and be respected by the communities. We cannot continue to ignore the plights of our people. We are getting all the necessary support from the government despite the competing priorities. CSOs also get support from the government. “
He further said “We are happy to be with TF to issue deeds to the communities. Four communities are ready and will be presented to those communities soon.”
The program was graced by representatives and chairpersons of Community Land Development Committees (CLDMCs), other civil society organizations (CSOs), international partners, and the Liberia Land Authority among others.
CLDMC representatives at the launching all commended TF, SDI, FCI, and partners for working with them and vowed to do more in their respective communities.