DOBOR, River Cess – Several River Cess communities are expected to soon be certificated by the Liberia Land Authority to take legitimate ownership of their customary lands. The mapping exercise, which the Sustainable Development Institute conducted in December 2020, saw four clans in River Cess settling their respective land disputes.
SDI’s executive director, Nora Bowier, told The Bush Chicken that the Protection of Customary Collective Community Land Rights Project in Liberia is intended to support rural communities to formalize and strengthen their customary land and natural resource claims. Bowier said her organization supported four communities or clans, including Teekpeh, Zialue, Dorbor, and Gbarsaw, to go through a process referred to as community self-identification.
“We are also helping communities to settle land disputes,” Bowier said. “If this is not done, the communities will not be able to get a deed for their land.”
Bowier noted that the project’s objective is that in the end, communities must be able to get registered deeds to allow them to begin using their land.
She said SDI trained community mappers to carry out the mapping exercise in keeping with the new Land Rights Act. Following the mapping, Bowier said the Liberia Land Authority now needs to survey these communities. This may take some time, depending on the capacity of the LLA.
The project is being implemented by SDI and two other organizations, including the Forum for Community Initiatives and Parley Liberia, in 24 communities in 8 counties. The Liberia Land Authority is providing guidance and support.
SDI is working with eight communities in Maryland, River Cess, and River Gee; FCI is working in eight communities in Grand Bassa and Sinoe, while Parley Liberia is responsible for eight communities in Lofa, Bong, and Nimba.
The project’s activities are focused extensively on supporting communities to self-identify, define land space, and demarcate common boundaries. The project also establishes a governance system to promote inclusion and participation of all stakeholders and conducts a participatory geo-referencing of the communities’ land and valuable cultural and natural resources.
Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue