Monrovia, January 28, 2020: LLA Officials Participate in A Conference On Land Policy in Africa

The Liberia Land Authority (LLA) recently participated in the 3rd edition of the conference on Land Policy in Africa from November 25 to 29, 2019 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

The Authority was represented by its Chairman, Atty. J. Adams Manobah, Cllr. Kula L. Jackson, Commissioner for Land Policy and Planning, Hon. Ellen O. Pratt, Commissioner for Land Use and Management, and Mr. Uriah Garsinii, Land Management Officer.

The theme of the conference was “Winning the fight against corruption in the land sector: sustainable pathways for Africa’s transformation.”

The conference was a tripartite initiative by the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The Bank was represented in the event organized by the African Natural Resources Centre (ANRC).

The theme of this 3rd edition of the land conference was drawn from the African Union’s Declaration of 2018 as the year of anti-corruption in Africa. The event attracted some 450 participants, including government representatives, traditional leaders, and civil society organizations, members of parliament, academicians and development institution officials. The Conference was a policy and learning event whose goal is to deepen capacity for land policy in Africa through improved access to knowledge and information on land policy development and implementation.

The conference highlighted that corruption is a major impediment in efforts to promote governance, socio-economic transformation, peace, security and human rights. Combating corruption by improving good land governance through robust policies and institutions is critical to the realization of the Africa we envisage as it relates to land governance.

During the plenary and parallel sessions, Hon. Ellen O. Pratt served as one of the panelists on the discussion of women land rights in Africa with focus on customary land. The following are key highlights from her presentation:

• Land rights play a crucial role in agricultural development and inclusive growth. • In many countries in Africa, women lose out on their land rights due to patriarchal and cultural norms and traditions. • To promote and ensure gender justice in relation to land, one must take into consideration all necessary measures to pursue both de jure and de facto equality in order to enhance the ability of women to defend their land rights, take equal part in decision-making, and ensuring that control over land and the benefits derived thereof are equal between women and men. • Liberia is on the right trajectory as it pertains to women land rights. The Land Rights Act of Liberia recognizes and protects the land rights of communities, groups, families, and individuals who own, use, and manage their land in accordance with customary practices and norms, equal to Private Land Rights.

During the master classes (technical sessions), on behalf of Liberia and the Land Authority, Commissioner Pratt and Mr. Uriah Garsinii, presented two papers: “Development of a Landmark Land Use and Management framework for Liberia and “Participatory Land Use Planning for Equitable and Inclusive Development in Rural Customary Communities”.

Commissioner Pratt presented on “Development of a Landmark Land Use and Management framework for Liberia. The following are key highlights from Commissioner Pratt’s presentation:

• Liberia is among fast thriving democracies in West Africa, and seeks to build a resilient country based on inclusive growth and social justice. • Despite the gains made by Liberia, much still needs to be done to ensure a good quality of life for the citizens. • Liberia Vision 2030 document, seeks to make Liberia a middle-income county by 2030. • Consistent investments in agriculture and industry are needed to generate jobs and reduce poverty for a growing population. • Adequate investment in social services such as education, health and sanitation to cater for the needs of the growing population, particularly the youth cohort who need an education that delivers knowledge and skills to prepare them for the 21st century. • There is competing demand for land for the various uses – industrial, commercial, residential, recreational, etc. • The challenges of how much land will be available for industrial development; how much can be allocated for commercial use; appropriate locations for settlements, the processes for demarcating communal, commercial or residential land; etc. • Land Use Planning and Management is needed to ensure the optimal use of land for various purposes.

For his part, Mr. Garsinii presented on “Participatory Land Use Planning for Equitable and Inclusive Development in Rural Customary Communities” Citing the Poverty Reduction Strategy of 2008, He mentioned that “the origins of the conflict can be traced to two broad factors. First, significant portions of society were systematically excluded and marginalized from institutions of political governance and access to key economic assets. In the early days, land and property rights of most Liberians were severely limited.”

He also quoted the Land Rights Policy of 2013, which states, “The Government recognizes and protects the land rights of communities, groups, families, and individuals who own, use, and manage their land in accordance with customary practices and norms, equal to Private Land Rights.”

He however noted that land use planning tied to agricultural investments should be prioritized in Liberia.

Mr. Uriah Garsinii said participatory land use planning will enable integrated and sustained development, and there is a need for regulations to systematize processes; additionally land use planning processes must adapt to different settings and scales.

Participants at the Policy dialogue called on governments to put in place policies that were not in existence, and to review existing ones so they can be in tandem with experiences on the ground and current realities. Governments were also called upon to ensure that policies and laws take into account the interests of the youth and women and other marginalized groups; encourage climate-friendly and sustainable land use, and put in place mechanisms for the management of cross-border resources.


Reported By: Arthur R. Tucker