22 May 2019

Liberia: CDI Empowers Forest Land Dwellers

Land conflicts in Liberia have been an age-old problem with some leading to the loss of lives in both the urban and rural parts of the country. Conflicts in forest communities have recently intensified, especially disputes on boundaries and forceful land grabbing for large scale commercial farming activities.

Towards this end, the Community Development Initiative (CDI) has taken the lead to empower communities' dwellers in handling conflicts among themselves.

The organization on Friday, May 17, 2019 completed a 2-day training on feedback grievance redress mechanism committees capacity-building for Lake Piso and Gola Forest communities' at the Sinje Multi-purpose conference center in Grand Cape Mount County.

CDI's executive director, Lawrence Bondo added, "We selected 20 persons to ensure their skills/capacities are built in grievance redress mechanism, because we have too many conflicts around forest land, and also few people making decisions without the consent of the others."

The training empowered participants to resolve boundaries and farm land conflicts at the community level, and also with companies operating on forest lands.

"Today, we have town chiefs, general town chiefs and women, especially those within the leadership of a town. We have secretaries as well and believe that the empowerment of these people grievance redress mechanism can help to handle problem and keep them united," Mr. Bondo said.

He said the placement of safeguard measures in place in forest communities will serve as a curb to minimize conflicts among the people.

"Our people can live peacefully void of conflict through such education," he said.

The CDI put into place a complete monitoring system at the end of the capacity-building training.

Moses B. Jaygbah, the chief facilitator, said the training helped participants to understand how to handle forest grievance, and also built the capacity of CDI staffs to provide onward training to forest communities, and also built the capacity of participants to identify existing conflicts within the forest communities, if any exist.

Jaygbah said the training then recommended grievance structures to be setup around the reserve Lake Piso and Gola Forest for those residents in forest communities to make make the forest an importance component to their livelihood.

The District Commissioner, John Gray, who was one of the participants, highlighted some of the common conflicts within the forest communities. He then expressed the hopes that the two days' engagement would help to resolve some the problems.

Mr. Gray: "boundary is a common conflict flash points within forest communities where the locals usually had problem with each other, because encroachment is becoming the order of the day. Additionally, some people move to farm on lands that were previously used by other people without asking those who farm on the land."

He stressed the need for forest communities' conflict to be resolved at the community level, instead of using the police, a situation which he said can be done without bad blood among dwellers.

According to Mr. Gray, decentralization of the training will help in alleviating conflict associated with boundaries and farming lands.

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