Sustainable Environment/Green Scenery & ALLAT expose Rural representatives in Pujehuhun on the Voluntary Guidelines, Governance of Land and fisheries Rights

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

The Sustainable Environmental & Development Action (SEDA) in collaboration with Green Scenery and Action for Large-scale Land Acquisition Transparency (ALLAT) with funding from the Food and Agriculture Organization and the German Welthungerhilfe has organized two days training for rural representatives and decision makers on the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible Governance of the Tenure of Land and Fisheries (VGGT) in the country.


The training workshop on the 26th and 27th of May 2016 is part of the series of VGGT replication training that were proposed after the training of trainers workshop organized by Green Scenery in Freetown. The sustainable Environment and Development Action was selected to organize the replica training in the Southern region and Pujehun was chosen for obvious reasons.


The training comes amidst tension in the country with the massive influx of large scale land investors across the country. Many of these investors are involved in Palm production. Socfin has already occupied thousands of hectares of land in Sahn Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District.

The VGGT is a guiding principle and document designed by the FAO which governments and land investors must work with to ensure responsible land investment and governance. The Sierra Leone Government through the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security is one of the few countries that has already signed the VGGT and promised to implement it in its entirety for land management in the country.

In his statement during the training, the Director of Sustainable Environmental & Development Action, Mr. Abdulai Bunwai said the purpose of the training is to expose the local people and Civil Society groups to land issues in the country. He said that there has been many issues related to land across the country and more especially in Pujehun adding that some of these issues may end up in bigger conflicts as explicit in other countries. He noted that fact that land disputes and grabbing normally promotes hunger and food insecurity in some countries especially when it is always possible that a hungry man is always an angry man.

Mr. Bunwai noted that large-scale land investors normally come in a country and take large areas of land belonging to the communities who do not normally understand the indebt agreements on land deal but noted that with the knowledge of the VGGT and the training of community people on their tenure rights, problems of investors grabbing large areas of land will be minimized. He said in a situation where the lands are taken, “the poor and the powerless will always suffer” adding that if they also suffer for long, it will lead to conflict and sometimes wars.

Mr. Bunwai pointed out that they as ALLAT members are not against large-scale land investment in the country but are against investments that are not responsible and does not care about the best interest of the community people, the government and the environment.

The Director of Green Scenery and also pioneer of the Action for Large-scale Land Acquisition Transparency (ALLAT) in Sierra Leone, Mr. Joseph Rahall gave a brief description of the VGGT, how it started and the present stage the country is towards implementing the FAO’s document. He said the workshop started when the Sierra Leone Government and the Government of Germany signed a document towards working with the VGGT and the time they came and set up technical working groups for the implementation of the VGGT.

He described land as a very controversial material which is very delicate and a portion that makes Sierra Leone a sovereign state. He said any person who is not a citizen of the land takes a portion of land for investment, that portion is no longer the property of Sierra Leone until such land is given back. He added that the whole world had recognized that land investment is causing problem and that brought about the VGGT guidelines and documentation.

In his opening statement, the Assistant District Officer for Pujehun District, Mr. Edward Aiah Ngaujah described land as a free gift of nature which must be utilized responsibly so that generations yet on born can access it and also be able to utilize it. He said land in the western Area and land in the rural communities is different in terms of management where the latter is managed through communal system with the Paramount Chiefs or the local authorities serving as Chief Custodians. Mr. Ngaujah also spoke of the importance of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s guidelines on the responsible governance of the tenure of land in the country.

After the training in Pujehun Town, Mr. Bunwai said it will not stop. They are going to continue the land rights education in the villages.

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