In Liberia, the National Dialogue was organized and co-convened by the Multi Actor Platform on Land Governance and Responsible Agricultural Investment (MAP Liberia Platform), Liberia Land Authority (LLA), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture- key VGGT facilitators in Liberia.
The dialogue in Liberia brought together all constituencies, including representatives of rural communities, women, and youth; and provided an opportunity for reflection and re-focusing of national-level roadmaps for land reform, oriented around the key vocabulary and principles of the VGGT.
The dialogue marked the 10th anniversary of the VGGT held under the theme: “Taking stock, raising awareness and commitment for the further implementation of the guidelines and improvement of the governance of land forests and fisheries resources".
Through its umbrella Program Supporting Responsible Investments in Agriculture and Food Systems, FAO is providing support to responsible investment and application of the Committee on World Food Security Responsible Agricultural Investment (CFS-RAI) Principles by engaging relevant actors including small-scale producers and their organizations, policy makers, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector to raise awareness about the 10 principles among them. This is why the VGGT aligns with the RAI specifically Principle 5, Respect tenure of land, fisheries and forest and access to water.
As a way of supporting the implementation of the VGGT in Liberia, Mr. Quarbo stated FAO has worked with the Civil Society Organizations, Land Rights Working Group, in order to reach a wide range of CSO actors to strengthen their understanding of the VGGT to effectively engage in the institutional framework for tenure policies.
FAO, with funding from the German Government, implemented three projects in Liberia on VGGT and findings of the end-of- project evaluation, show the interventions which supported country level implementation of the VGGT, delivered learning programs, and facilitated strategic support for the long term implementation of the VGGT, mainly contributing to the passage of the Land Rights Law. The activities implemented in Liberia were linked with those implemented in Sierra Leone, as Liberia faces similar issues of tenure governance.
Under these interventions, FAO Liberia worked with the VGGT Secretariat and the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), to organize four regional awareness workshops and a national radio sensitization and advocacy campaign on the implementation of the VGGT, activities that directly led to the passage of the Land Rights Act.
According to the FAO Assistant Representative the activities were aimed at getting stakeholders better prepared for governance of tenure and has built stronger CSO networks and raised awareness at grass levels.
Although government is responsible to govern and address tenure related problems affecting the people, civil society, the private sector, and others concerned with tenure governance are to contribute to improving the policy and the legal and organizational frameworks that regulate tenure rights.
As a technical and financial co-convener of the National Land Conference held in March of this year – which culminated into the “Gbehzohn Declaration” – FAO assures that it stands ready to build on the gains made by theMulti Actor Platform on Land Governance and Responsible Agricultural Investment(RAI) to promote secure tenure rights.
Delivering the keynote address at the dialogue, Leelia R. Andrews, Deputy Minister for Technical Services at the Agriculture Ministry said, member countries of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) have committed themselves to upholding and applying the guidelines and principles of the (VGGT).
“The Ministry of Agriculture has learned lessons from protests against the Sime Darby and Golden Veroleum concessions, citizens were deposed from their land without appropriate provisions, thus depriving them access to their farm land, water for fishing, and forest where they seek food and herbs for medicinal purposes.”
Political will of the Liberian Government through the Liberia Land Authority to fully implement the Land Rights Act, LRA, failure to complete the development of instruments needed for the complete implementation of the LRA, and incomplete land governance structures at the national, county and community levels were few of the challenges highlighted at the dialogue.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.