LIBERIA: Bomi Citizens Extol Sustainable Development Institute — For educating them on the importance of their Land through CRSF

Citizens of Bomi County have extolled the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) for educating them on the importance of their customary land and how to manage land relatedconflict.

The SDI through the Community Rights Support Facility (CRSF) has been working in seven clans in two administrative districts in Bomi County educating citizens on the importance of their community land and how to collectively work in managing issues that have the proclivity to create conflict in their communities because of land.

The project is funded under the Green Livelihoods Alliance (GLA 2.0), forest for a just future program through the SDI.

In implementing the project, the Community Rights Support Facility (CRSF) has been focusing on Community Self-Identificationand the establishment of governance structures which are the initialprocesses for the legal recognition of the land rights of customary land-owning communities. This also seeks to ensure that a community has self-identified, determined its boundaries, established legal entity, recorded and registered its deed.

It also looks at governance which involves the full participation of all community members and citizens irrespective of status coming together to discuss and decide the status of community land. The project is at the same time looking at boundary harmonization which ensures that all boundary issues are resolved harmoniously and thetotal co-existence of all communities.  The overall goal is that these customary land-owning communities’ lands are formalized in accordance with the Land Rights Act of 2018.

However, to assess the impacts of the project, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), A. Morris Nyain as head of the assessment team visited the project communities where the citizens extolled the SDI through the implementing partner, the Community Rights Support Facility (CRSF).

The CRSF has since been working setting up the Community Land Development Management Committees (CLDMCs). The role of the CLDMCs is to work internally with the community in managing land and other natural resources and playing the role as liaison officers between the communities and concessionaires.

The two days assessment was also meant to measure the effectivenessand achievements so far of CRSF’s interventions in the various communities and know whether the project is on track or not. The assessment was done in six of the seven clans in Senjeh and Klay Districts in Bomi County. The clans include Zepeh, Mana, Gorblah, Manoah, Upper Togay and Lower Togay respectively.

Speaking to the assessment team, the chairman of the CLDMCs of Lower Togay, Sando B. Coleman said they have now been trained in identifying their customary land to effectively and collectively work to manage landconflict.

“I have now learned the importance of our community land, how to work together, ensure the full participation of women and how we all can work together in protecting our land forthe benefit of all. We never knew this before, but the CRSF has really helped us to understand the rights and protection we have over our land,” Coleman said.

Also speaking, Madam Hawa Quaye of Bola Town in Senjeh district recounted that unlike in the past, women in her clan are now greatly involved in the discussions of their land as well as their rights in land matters.

“In the past, women never used to attend meetings of such, but this time we all are involved in discussions involving land and we are also allowed to speak and hold positions in the CLDMCs because the organization has trained us to know our rights and speak our minds.”

At the same time, John E. Varney, General Town Chief in Lower Togay added that the training from the organization has been extremely important for them as community members. “Now, all of the meetings are participatory unlike in the past when women and men never used to gather in discussing issues pertaining to their land,”he said.

For FodayKuteh, a89yearsold man of Barmo Town, Manoah Clan expressed total excitement for CRSF and SDI in improving their lives.

“We now know our rights as customary community landowners; nobody will just come and start surveying our land. We know our land should benefit every member of the community. Now husbands and wives can sit together and discuss the status of their land,” Mr. Kuteh, Dean of Elders of Barmo Town.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), Mr. Morris Nyain stressed that under the Green Livelihood Alliance 2.0 forest for a just future program, monitoring and evaluation is very critical for all partners.

Mr. Nyain said “Monitoring and evaluation will help the alliance member [Sustainable Development Institute] to track the implementation, outputs, and outcomes of the Community Rights Support Facility (CRSF) customary land formalization intervention in Bomi County.  This will also guide further strategic planning regarding the most valuable and efficient use of resources and reallocation of resources in a better ways.”

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