Green Scenery and ALLAT expose Paramount Chiefs on new National Land Policy

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya
The role of Traditional authorities in the administration of land is pivotal in the country. Paramount Chiefs serve as chief custodians of communal land in their respective Chiefdoms.
Recently, the Ministry of Lands Country Planning and the Environment in collaboration with stakeholders prepared the first ever National Land Policy for Sierra Leone. Green Scenery in collaboration with the Action for for Largescale Land Acquisition Transparency (ALLAT) has organized a one day Paramount Chiefs’ National Land Conference on the new land Policy.

With support from the German Welthungerhilfe, AGEH and Christian Aid, Local Authorities assembled in the Northern regional headquarter town of Makeni and discussed key challenges facing land issues in the country and got access to fully understand what is in the land policy.
The conference focused on bringing to light issues on land and tenure rights in the country as well as increase the knowledge base of the Paramount Chiefs on the new land policy and the Voluntary guidelines on the governance of the tenure of land across Sierra Leone. The Director of Green Scenery, Mr. Joseph Rahall was precise in explaining the purpose of the conference.
Over the past five years, ALLAT has been a vibrant alliance campaigning for the just use of land and natural resources in addition to livelihood provision in the country. Barely a month ago, it organized a national land owners and users conference in Freetown where key issues affecting them were also discussed.
In 2014 during the early days for the review of the Constitution, ALLAT again organized a national Paramount Chiefs’ land conference in Bo where Chiefdom Authorities across the country discussed key challenges on land, natural resources and the environment. Some of the resolutions at the time were subsequently added into the new constitution of Sierra Leone awaiting Presidential assent.
Here in Makeni, the National Coordinator for ALLAT, Mr. Abdulai Bunwai expressed the fact that land issues cannot be resolved without the full involvement of local authorities. He stressed on the importance of land to the community especially when they get their livelihood and economic activities from it.
Land forms a major natural resource that needs total management and caring. As one of the sponsors of this Conference, Umurana Kemoh Sowa from the German Welthungerhilfe said they believe on food security for communities and support for proper natural resources management in Sierra Leone. He said smallholder farmers and local authorities like Paramount Chiefs are also key to the natural resources management in the country.
Besides the fact that Largescale investment on land is also contributing immensely in the economic development of the country as well as the employment of youths, Mr. Sowa said they believe in a win-win situation where the small holder farmers and investors can benefit.
The National Land Policy aimed to move towards a clearer, more efficient and just land tenure system that shall provide for social and public demands, stimulate responsible investment and form a basis for the nation’s continued development. During his presentation, the Deputy Director, Planning, Policy and Research Development at the Ministry of Lands Country Planning and the Environment, Dr. Alphajoh Cham said it will also promote law reforms that integrate the two separate jurisdictions of the current land tenure system in the country. The policy will also promote equitable access to land without any form of discrimination.
There has always been conflict in implementing some of the government policies between MDAs in the country and the PC of Bombali Shebora Chiefdom seems to know much on how best such government institutions should operate for proper implementation of these policies in the country. Paramount Chief Bai Shebora Kasangha II called on the government of Sierra Leone for the proper implementation of the new land policy. Speaking on the challenges he used to face on land and other environment related issues in his Chiefdom, PC Kasangha II hopes there will be proper coordination between the Ministry of Lands and the Environment Protection Agency.
Hon Paramount Chief Alex M Kainpuma of Bonthe District said one of the recipe for confusion on land is the issue of payment while citing the huge price margin for a piece of land in England to that in Sierra Leone.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Maya Moiwo Kaikai commits a strong collaboration between the government of Sierra Leone and the Civil Society towards regulating and addressing land issues in the country.
Among the action points agreed upon during the conference are the popularization of the National Land Policy and the Voluntary Guidelines from now on to the end of 2017. There was also a resolution on resolving disputes between and among land owning families as against next year.
The Conference was hailed by Paramount Chiefs who pledged to implement the action points in their various Chiefdoms.

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