Liberia passed a hailed and much appreciated Land Rights Law in 2019. Since then, efforts to reform the sector as provided by law have become even more challenging. The Liberian Civil Society is looking out there for answers. How to get these questions and then feedback them with the right answers calls for a new effort towards actionable activities. Please help.
Key challenges are:
- Deliberate delay of developing the regulations so that the open window can be used to accord land to powerful politicians
- Limited engagement between CSOs and the Land Authority - far below the bar as seen when the law was being negotiated
- The rights of Women in traditional marriages
Can you possibly be more specific? What challenges are you facing. Is it an implementation issue or access issue or both. Kenya has been dealing with some difficulties in effectively implementing the Community Land Act of 2016. The implementing authority has been quite slow in rolling out officers across the country, for example.
Land Law is an area that I am very familiar with, and would like to get a deeper understanding of what challenges Liberia is facing. I’d be happy to share a comparative analysis with the Tanzanian legal framework on land ownership matters.
Just a small example - looking into the challenges of land ownership and gender equality, in 2021 Tanzania made a positive move to introduce joint ownership of land for married couples, where title deeds will bear the names of both husband and wife.
In other recent events, there is an ongoing conflict that has caught national attention where the Government of Tanzania is seeking to displace the Maasai community from the Ngorongoro Conservation area - a place that they have called home for generations.
Thanks very much for your initial contribution. Of course, Liberia’s problem is more complex. So, when the law was being discussed, few safeguards were enshrined such as community land ownership, inclusive participation, consent for large-scale investments, return of land to communities after any large-scale investment, etc. However, there were issues that were agreed to be addressed through regulations. This acceptance to address certain issues through regulations is now being used by Government to delay essential activities that should see communities owning their land legally. In fact, CSO participation seems to be dwindling and the initial image that the Liberian Land Authority built with CSOs may wane away if care is not taken.
A few questions coming up are:
- what happens if the government delays regulations deliberately in order to help elites grab land?
- How do we address joint ownership of land between spouses when our traditional laws allow a man to marry more than one wife and in case one of the wives decides to divorce, what share can they carry of existing properties
- Can CSO start thinking of using the law to stop the government from undertaking land use and management in the absence of regulations
- In the future, can any citizen use the law to challenge all land given to powerful politicians in the absence of regulations
These are just a few of the many questions and issues at stake and little is done by the government and CSOs to really take concrete steps.
Thanks very much for the contribution. I just made some responses below and I hope this will help to keep the conversation ongoing.