FCI Launches UN Women Supported Project Targeting Grand Gedeh & Nimba

As part of the many efforts aimed at curtailing conflicts arising from land ownership, the Foundation for Community Initiatives (FCI) has officially launched a UN Women supported project with funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Office, that targets Grand Gedeh and Nimba Counties.

The project titled: “Enhancing peace and social cohesion through the promotion of equitable access to and use of land for rural women in conflict-prone communities and concession areas,” was launched Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at the Corina Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia with key stakeholders in attendance.

Founded in 2004, FCI gears to institutionalize women in leadership position at all levels and showcase women’s ingenuity in building and leading an indigenous women institution that is focused on women empowerment, peace building, conflict resolution and leadership and governance issues, especially in the Natural Resource Management (NRM) Sector.

Giving an overview of the project, Madam Hawa D. Varney, Project Coordinator of FCI, explained that the project is an outcome of a land governance conflict survey conducted in 2020 by the Liberia Peacebuilding Office, which revealed that land/property disputes remain one of the most prominent threats to national peace and stability.

According to her, these disputes have largely centered around boundary claims, rightful ownership of land, inter-tribal and communal rivalries, and family in-fighting arising from either land grabbing, document falsification or associated issues.

And while this affects all ages of women, the project outlines that the most affected are the young women who face the same gender-based discrimination as the older women and are also left out of community decision-making. This group of women, it is believed that they are not considered by most interventions in this area. Also, local communities are marginalized when it comes to decision-making regarding the exploitation of natural resources.

Madam Varney told the gathering that the project aims to provide women with an enabling environment, systems, tools, voice, and mechanisms to address the continuing marginalization of women in land governance.

She said the project is also geared to increase community social cohesion and address specific problems and conflicts in concession areas, considering the ‘’agenda of business and human rights’’ in line with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

“It is intended to promote the commitment and accountability of companies  to carry out heightened human rights due diligence, as well as the promotion of the Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs), which offer guidance to businesses, including concessions on how to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in companies. It will educate communities and local authorities on existing mechanisms for early warning and conflict resolution,” Madam Varney further elaborated on the importance of the project.

The FCI’s Project Coordinator indicated that one of the project’s goals is to foster social cohesion through investments in livelihood opportunities for community members, especially women, young people, and other marginalized groups; and improve engagements between concession companies and local concession communities.

She disclosed that during the course of the project, FCI will map and assess existing customary land governance institutions, ADR mechanism and gender sensitiveness of semi- formal land dispute resolution bodies in Grand Gedeh and Nimba Counties.

FCI will also provide technical support to the Inter-ministerial Concession Committee, SPRC, NBC to enhance transparency and engender the concession contracting process and agreement negotiations and implementation by raising awareness on UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and FPIC

“The project will support the implementation of the NBC gender policy by strengthening the capacity of the gender unit and roll out training on gender, ADR, masculinities, and land rights, gender -responsive conflict resolution and LRA for members of the CLDMC, County land Offices, Peace huts, MSP in Grand Gedeh and Nimba Counties.”

It will also introduce a women’s land rights platform within the Women Peace Huts to facilitate education and ongoing sensitization on the Land Rights Act, and foster cooperation with the land authorities and other land dispute resolution bodies.

“We will conduct tailored capacity – building sessions for Liberia National Rural Women Structure to draw on the gender -climate – security nexus in their future advocacy efforts to demonstrate the linkages between rural women’s access to land tenure, resolution of land disputes, and climate adaptation.”

Hawa pointed out that it is expected that at the end of the project, authorities and communities at national and local levels will manage land allocation, registration and concession licensing processes that support community participation and transparency and that which uphold the rights of women.

It is also expected that the project will ensure that concession affected communities and concession companies benefit from improved relationship and peaceful co-existence through jointly addressing problems and conflicts in concessions areas. 

In remarks, Madam Ghoma Karloweah, UN Women National Program Officer, stressed the need for continuous effort to ensure women’s empowerment in order to lift them out of poverty. 

Madam Karloweah is of the optimism that the project yields positive impacts as land disputes have the propensity to lead to a national conflict. 

Land disputes are seriously serious and we need to tackle it now, because these are underlining causes for the next war. And so effort such as this is intended to ensure that we have peace and that we are together. This project will help bring peace and stability,” the UN Women official asserted. 

Madam Loretta Alethea Pope-Kai, Executive Director of FCI, in brief remarks, says FCI will tap into the expertise of knowledgeable people so as get the needed results.

 With the support of UN Women, Madam Pope-Kai assured that the project be implemented to its fullest and will get the desired outcome.

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