Liberia: Sweden Announces Over U.S.$7 Million for Land Sector

"Land remains crucial element in conflict, post-conflict context of Liberia," says Ambassador Wetterqvist

Ambassador of Sweden to Liberia, Ingrid Wetterqvist, says the land situation remains a crucial element in the conflict and post-conflict context of Liberia. Thus she reiterated Sweden's commitment on this matter with more than US$7 million funding, but for technical institutional cooperation only.

Amb. Wetterqvist made the remarks on Friday during the program marking the official launch of the capacity building for Inclusive Land Administration and Management Project in Liberia (ILAMP), held at the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) office in Monrovia.

"Sweden is here to support the development of the LLA, because we believe in the LLA and that they will do the right priorities in line with the strategic plan," Amb. Wetterqvist said.

The project will be jointly implemented by LLA and Lantmateriat, a Swedish governmental agency with the mission to give support for creating an efficient and sustainable use of Sweden's real properties, including land and water.

Friday's program, held under the theme, "Promoting Inclusive, Transparent, Effective and Efficient Delivery of Land Management and Administration Services in Liberia," brought together Senator George Tengbeh of Lofa County, Representative Vincent Willie of Grand Bassa County District #4, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) actors, local and international partners, NGOs and staff of LLA.

Amb. Wetterqvist said Lantmateriat has three main activities, including Cadastral Services, Geodata and Land Registration with the aim to contribute towards fighting poverty and supporting economic development.

According to female Envoy, both authorities took time to learn about each other, and to form the basis of mutual trust which is important for the institutional cooperation between the two agencies.

"This is a win-win situation since I believe that both Sweden, and Liberia can learn from each other and benefit from this cooperation project," Amb. Wetterqvist said.

She said it is critical for the government of Liberia to step in and make sure LLA get the means needed to succeed with this important work.

"They are currently engaged in projects in 15 different countries, and we have great confidence in their work. I am happy about the constructive relations that have developed between the LLA, and Lantmateriat that have recorded a success story," the Ambassador said.

LLA acting chair, J. Adams Manobah, said land remains the source of livelihood both at the national and community levels.

Manobah, who officially launched the project, said it is the fundamental resource of agricultural and forestry activities.

He indicated that in today's world, no society will develop or attract substantial investment without a functioning land administration information system.

"This is what we are destined to achieve at the LLA, because we are established to ensure available, affordable, and accessible responsive land administration information in Liberia. Like any other form of wealth, if not properly administered, leads to potential tension and instability in society," Mr. Manobah said.

Atty. J. Adams Manobah, acting chairman of Liberia Land Authority officially launches the ILAMP project.

Lantmateriat project manager of ILAMP, Oscar Nilsson, said the project will provide training in short, medium and long-term and expect to prepare LLA staff on all levels to be skilled enough to efficiently, and effectively carrying out their duties.

"Increase women's participation in land administration and management on all levels, advocate and support local governments for creating and enforcement of land use plans, and develop and secure methods of demarcation and regulations of customary land," Nilsson said.

Mr. Nilsson stressed that the overall focus is to help and support LLA to be a trusted authority to deliver land administration service to the Liberian society and the citizens of Liberia, adding, "At least we not only want to be your project partner, we also like to learn and have new friends and colleagues in LLA and Liberia."

He said that project will support several and different kinds of experts and professions in the ILAMP, many of them with years of experience from governmental work, capacity building or from development projects, both internal but also abroad experiences.

According to him, three permanent experts will be stationed here in Liberia during the project implementation. "Some will stay longer; some will be here little bit shorter. But the project will always have a team set up to match LLA's need for training and support.

"Lantmäteriat and LLA will work together to create capacity that contributes to inclusive, transparent, efficient and effective delivery of land management and Land administration services in Liberia," he said.

He said Lantmäteriat's experiences from the land administration are wide and have a long tradition in capacity development and training as an internal learning organization for "ourselves," but also as an international partner in capacity-building for developing countries.

ILAMP project director, Mrs. Daniela Gray-Johnson, said the project components are aligned with the LLA's mandate, as well as the LLA five-year strategic plan.

Mrs. Daniela Gray-Johnson, ILAMP project director gives overview of ILAMP.

Mrs. Johnson said the expected outcomes of the project include LLA staffs training to carry out their duties, women participating in the land administration and management, local government creating and enforcing Land Use Plans, and Customary and protected land demarcated and managed.

She said the project will be governed by a steering committee, and will also have a reference or advisory group comprising a major stakeholder; including government institutions, CSOs and other key actors in the land sector to provide guidance and support.

"We expect that at the end of the five years of this project, we hope that the functions and responsibilities of each technical department of the LLA will be fully defined, that LLA staff will have enhanced capacity to carry out their duties, that a gender strategy is developed and fully implemented and women are more aware of and are achieving their rights to land," she said.

Mrs. Johnson said the successful implementation of this project "will help us achieve our five years strategic plan, and overall mandate and ultimately begin to address the pervasive land issues around the country and the citizens of Liberia can adequately enjoy the benefits of land as a key resource and economic asset."

She promised to work to ensure coordination and collaboration between Lantmateriat and other donor funded projects, CSOs, NGOs and other key actors in the land sector so as to be able to measure cumulative progress over time.

James M. Yarsiah, Executive Director of Rights and Rice Foundation and representing the CSO Working Group on Land, assured the Government of Sweden, the LLA and other actors of their commitment now as were some 10 years ago to ensuring that all Liberians enjoy and actualize their land rights guaranteed by land law.

"We are committed to ensuring the promotion and protection of customary land rights, women's land rights and the rights of marginalized groups throughout the implementation period. We in civil society will not compromise our advocacy for land rights," Mr. Yarsiah said.

Mr. James Yarsiah, executive director of Rights and Rice Foundation and CSO Working Group on Land speaks during the launch of ILAMP by LLA and Lantmateriat.

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