Liberia: Dutch NGO, Government Validate Land Use Plan for District in Sinoe

Monrovia — The Liberia Land Authority (LLA) and the Sustainable Trade Initiatives (IDH) of the Netherlands have validated a land use plan for Kpanyan Statutory District, Sinoe County, the second district in the country to do so since the passage into law of the Land Rights Act a year ago.

The law made headlines across the world for recognizing customary communities land ownership, but requires them to develop a plan that spells out clearly how they intend to use their land. The plan details how the community intends to maximize the economic, social and other benefits they derive from using the land in a way that conserves the forest and protects critical natural resources.

The LLA and IDH in June this year developed the first land use plan in Liberia, after the law, for Foya in Lofa County covering 60,000 hectares. Six clans in the district, with financial support from IDH, are currently going through the legal requirements to get deeds to their customary communities.

Once completed, Kpanyan's land use plan will cover more than 100,000 hectares of land across the entire district, according to IDH.

"This is only the beginning," said Silas Siakor, who leads IDH's work in Liberia, on the side-line of the recent workshop in Monrovia where the validation took place. "With 160,000 hectares now under proper land use plans in two districts, developed by the people themselves, we are sowing the seeds for more sustainable use and development of Liberia's land, forest and water resources."

Mr. Siakor disclosed IDH's plan was to bring a total of 500,000 hectares of customary community land under land use plans and full community ownership by the end of 2020. "Once completed, our project will lay the foundation for conflict-free investment and inclusive development in the target communities" Mr. Siakor added.

Kpanyan's land use plan developed with citizens and other stakeholders from across the district, allocates land for agricultural production, including food and cash crops, forest for conservation, and proposes protection for critical resources such as rivers and streams. It contains maps that show where exactly certain crops can be grown in the district and the scale at which those crops may be cultivated.

Land use plans developed by the communities themselves

IDH brings together governments, companies, CSOs, local communities and financiers in action driven coalitions to tackle global issues such as deforestation linked to agriculture production, poverty and climate change.

Its landscape approach in Liberia is based on strengthening land governance and securing community land rights, improving food security and income diversification in rural areas, and developing supply chains and investment opportunities offering communities options to increase agricultural productivity while protecting forests, Mr. Siakor said.

The Foya land use plan was developed by the people of district themselves with technical support from Meta Meta Research, another Dutch consulting firm.

IDH is using the same method and same consultants to do the land use plan for Kpanyan. The draft plan was validated in the communities that make up the Kpanyan Statutory District and in Greenville City last week. The feedback and inputs from stakeholders gathered during the validation will be used to finalize the plan.

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