Liberia: Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia, Liberia Land Authority Conduct Land Ownership Training for Two Clans in Gbarpolu

Zluie Clan, Mbarma Clan Gparpolu County - The Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) in partnership with the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) on Thursday, September 24 concluded separate trainings for representatives of the Zuie and Mbarma clans in Kongba District on the proper processes and channels on how a portion of land can be legally owned or acquired by an individual or the entire community. Those clans comprise 25 forest-edge communities.

The activity is being funded by the RainForest Trust under the Gola Landscape project to support the establishment of community forest for the purpose of conservation and protection of Biodiversity.

Giving the overview of the activity, the Land-use Planning Officer of SCNL, James K. Mulbah stated that SCNL saw the need to partner with the LLA to render technical support to forest-edge communities that the institution continuously worked with to enable them legally own their own land by acquiring a deed in compliance with the laws of Liberia.

"So now what we are doing, we are going through what we called the Community Self identification Process (CSI). We did the awareness already and one of the requirements is that we have to train community members so that they will be able to roll out the steps," explained Mulbah.

According to Mulbah, the workshop was approved because communities that the SCNL worked with expressed interest for external support to aid them in the process of self-identifying their customary land.

"This has to be a community initiative but just that we've been partnering with the community so we decided to help them. So these people we are training will take the rest of the community through the formalities," stressed mulbah.

"When the proposed Zuie and Mbama Landscape are established it will support livelihood for communities around the Gola Forest National Park and ease tension on the Park," SCNL Executive Director, Michael Garbo.

Two representatives each were selected from each town in every clan to have the basic knowledge of the customary Land formalization process.

Mulbah hopes that upon their return, trained community representatives will be able to take the rest of their communities through the CSI process successfully.

The objective of the training was to enhance understanding of the customary land formalization process among participants at the same time enhancing communication and engagement skills.

Making remarks, the Research Analyst-Customary Land Rights Division of the LLA, Morris K. Kormazu stated that the partnership with SCNL is not strange because the LLA has the mandate to provide technical support for civil society organization that work with communities as it relates to formalization of customary land.

"The Laws state that every customary community should self-identify and SCNL being a very good institution took the initiative to help these communities around here to self-identify," he stated.

Mulbah listed some technical support provided by the LLA in collaboration with SCNL to community members as the six steps of the CSI which include, community profile, community awareness, community-determined level of self-identification and review and verification of the CSI process.

"That they should be able to use this guide in order to self-identify their community; so we came in to see how best we can provide guidance for them to get the basic understanding of these steps," he explained

Zuie clan was represented by 10 towns/communities including, Zuie, Tima, Gbajaw, Borborbee, Glay, Njoboi, Gargarma, Gogodee, Domamana, Jaiwajeh-Barwor .

Mbarma Clan was represented by 15 towns/communities including, Mbarma, Beaden, Fallah, Tarway, Moses, Jamesku, Beathou, Amtel, Gio, Gusuah, Safula, Duah, Beater, Fallahnigo, Kole-de Worwor.

It is however expected that at the close of the training, participants will have acquired renewed knowledge or understanding on the CSI activities; documentation of CSI activities including the major decisions reached, amongst others.

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