Publication: Complexities of Community Self-Identification in Liberia

How does one define “community” when working to protect community lands and natural resources? A new Lessons from the Field by Ali Kaba from the Sustainable Development Institute in Liberia and the Community Land Protection team examines the power and the challenges of facilitating communities to self-identify and define themselves for purposes of community land registration and protection.

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Abstract: Defining the boundaries and membership of a community is the first step in community land protection and documentation. These decisions require careful negotiation among a wide range of stakeholders and consideration of many social, political, cultural, and practical factors. Community definition should not be left to bureaucrats or external ‘experts’ because this may impose an inappropriate definition and deprives communities of a powerful opportunity for collective action. Rather, skilled facilitators should help communities to navigate the self-identification process to define their territories and membership. This Lesson from the Field shares strategies for supporting community self-definition in rural Liberia from Namati partner the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI).