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Green Scenery holds inception meeting on Transparent and participatory implementation of Land Tenure project in Sierra Leone

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

Green Scenery, a local Non Governmental Organization working on land and livelihood issues in Sierra Leone has held an inception meeting for a project on the promotion of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) in Sierra Leone. The inception meeting was organized at the Family Kingdom Resort with the attendance of key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Lands Country Planning and the Environment, Christian Aid, Welthungerhilfe, Food and Agricultural Organization, House of Parliament and a host of other organizations. The three year project is being funded by the German Federal government, BMZ through the Welthungerhilfe. Green Scenery is implementing project

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Making a presentation at the inception meeting, the Director of Green Scenery, Mr. Joseph Rahall gave an overall objective of the reason for intervention. Mr. Rahall said “… the framework conditions for transparent agricultural investments and responsible administration of land and land usage rights are created, improving the tenure security of farming households and food security”.  He said the project outcome will ensure Civil Society is positioned to monitor the processes of large-scale agricultural investments in accordance with the ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security’, and demands the tenure rights of small holder farmers. During the implementation of the project, ALLAT will represent the rural population affected by large-scale agricultural investments and influences national and local decision makers.

There will also be a study results and data on the impact of large-scale agricultural investments and create an empirical basis for the interest representation of the rural population.  Mr. Rahall explained that the implementation of the ‘voluntary guidelines’ project will be nationwide based on a broad social consensus and the population affected by large-scale agricultural investments is in the position to organise itself and negotiate with investors about the security of their land rights and participation concepts.

Explaining the Synergy between all of their various actions, the Green Scenery Director said “Civil society is positioned to monitor the processes of large-scale agricultural investments in accordance with the ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security’, demands the tenure rights of small holder farmers”.

The Geographic Information System Supervisor at the Ministry of Lands Country Planning and the Environment, Mr. Jobo Samba said his role is to introduce modern mapping technologies into the workflow at the Ministry of Lands and the Environment such as Global Positioning System technologies, GIS and Remote Sensing. He said with regards the implementation of the United Nations FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Land Tenure; they are working in collaboration with FAO and CSOs as well as CBOs in the VGGT.

The Assistant Country Program Manager, Emurana K. Sowa reading a statement on behalf of his Country Director, Jochen Moninger said seventy percent of food in Africa is produced by smallholder farmers and more than half of the labour is also produced by local farmers adding that the average farmer in Sierra Leone is working on a two hectare of land. He said international capital in large scale land acquisition is needed but he said it must go hand in hand with the small holders who are working and living on the land. Sierra Leone has 5.2 million arable lands and the claim that most of it is not in use is false because it is mostly used by small scale farmers. He said the Agriculture sector is booming in Sierra Leone and we must make sure the land is there for them.

Explaining the support they are providing to the implementation of the VGGT, Mr. Samba said they have established a Technical Working group at the Ministry which is providing an interface between the Ministry of Lands and the Food and Agricultural Organization in the implementation process. He said the Ministry is also supporting and had worked with the FAO on various studies such as legal review which mainly focuses on the balance between the national land policy they are now developing and the provision in the VGGT.

Commenting on another study supported by his Ministry, Mr. Samba also mentioned the status review of the land registration process which study he said is being commissioned by the FAO and it is going to look at land transaction and how they have been registered at the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General and the provisions and the technologies they have in place. The will also be commissioning the report on the dynamics on large scale land acquisition in Sierra Leone.

It could be recalled that Green Scenery implemented an 18-month project in 2013-14 titled “Transparency and Participation in Acquisition of Large scale Land for Agricultural Investments in Sierra Leone”. The overall objective was to increase transparent and participatory governance in tenure rights and land management as it affects right to food and development of poor and marginalized groups.

 

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