USAID and Land Authority Agree to Collaborate on Land Reform
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) on Friday, July 14, 2023, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), setting forth a collaborative framework for the successful implementation of the Land Management Activity (LMA).
The LMA is a USAID-funded project that is working with the LLA to help customary communities acquire (for the first time in their history) legal title to their lands. The LLA is Liberia’s land regulatory agency charged with implementing the Land Reform Rights Act of 2018, including its provisions on land rights for customary communities.
Customary communities are typically rural communities that have occupied their lands subject to traditional rules and norms but without any recognizable tenure rights. Under the Land Reform Rights Act, members of these communities that self-identify as a group and complete certain steps, including resolution of all boundary disputes, are entitled to deeds legally recognizing their rights to land they have occupied for 50 or more years.
According to the terms of the MOU, the LLA will work with USAID and ECODIT (which is implementing the LMA on behalf of USAID) to ensure communities receive their customary land deeds within about 60 days of completing the process required under the Land Reform Rights Act to formalize title to their land. In order to achieve this goal, the LLA will, among other things, support the LMA surveyor capacity development program, timely resolve all community boundary disputes, and conduct confirmatory surveys for communities that have successfully resolved all such disputes.
For its part, USAID, working through ECODIT, will collaborate with the LLA and provide technical assistance to help customary communities satisfy the requirements for securing their land rights. USAID will also partner with the LLA to ensure that customary communities manage communal land for productive use, and that women, youth, and other marginalized groups fully participate in and benefit from communal land management.
Speaking during the signing of the MOU in Monrovia today, USAID Liberia Mission Director Jim Wright hailed the passage of the Land Rights Act as “one of the most progressive post-civil war reforms in Liberia.” He added that USAID was proud of the support it is providing through the LMA to ensure the successful implementation of the Act and help address the “historic injustice that for so long has seen customary communities denied the right to own their own land.”
LLA Chairman, Atty. J. Adams Manobah, Sr., thanked the United States for “supporting the implementation of the Land Rights Act,” noting that “we at the LLA are committed to working with USAID and all other stakeholders to create a customary land tenure system that benefits all Liberians.”
The USAID Land Management Activity is currently working to help 100 communities in four counties- Bong, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Bassa – obtain customary land deeds.