Landowning Families receive Land Parcel Maps from Government and Food and Agriculture Organization

The Government of Sierra Leone in collaboration with The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Green Scenery have handed over land parcel maps to four (4) villages (Rosint, Matatie, Rokupr Wosie and Kalangba) in Mange Bureh Chiefdom. The project supported by the Government of Germany and the Irish Aid maps to over 34 families some of which are headed by women. For the first time, families were able to know the exact acreage and boundaries of their land, which is very important for planning any land investments and resolving land conflicts.

Land owners displaying land maps

In a fanfare of jubilation, the FAO team and the implementing partners Green Scenery and UPHR were given rosy welcome from the intersection leading to Mange town to the Mange court barray. The mission was greeted with the bubu traditional music team and motor bike riders who displayed dexterity at riding motor bikes as a show of entertainment but also as a display of jubilation for the expectant outcome of the Mange event.

Out of the 39 maps which were distributed, 34 belonged to land owning families from the villages of Kalangba, Matatie, Rosint and Rokupr Wosie all in the Mange Bureh Chiefdom in Port Loko district. The event brought together over 100 stakeholders in the Mange Bureh chiefdom including the neighbouring Maconteh Chiefdom were the project intends to be scaled up. Also present were area Councillors, chiefdom authorities, and elders. They include village chiefs, section chiefs, the Chiefdom speaker and the Regent Chief (Acting Paramount Chief). One could feel the electrified atmosphere in which those who participated came from villages far away from the city of Port Loko. These ordinary citizens where given the space to make known their views, while celebrating the occasion for which the short and concise programme presented that opportunity for the barray conversation to happen.

The welcome statement from the Chief Imam who is doubling as the Regent or Caretaker Paramount chief of Mange Bureh Chiefdom dwelt on the need for education relating it to the Holy Quran. Extending his discourse about education as the route to enlightenment, whichenlightenment he linked to safeguarding the rights of women and their rights to access and own land. The women were given their dues to talk and the woman ceremonial chief YabumPosseh(Tension) Kamara spoke vividly on behalf of the women. She elucidated how their male counterparts in the biological family would edge them out from the family lands on account of been women. She expressed appreciation for the enhanced capacity they received from Green Scenery, UPHR and FAO, which hasbroadened their knowledge regarding their land rights and how to advocate for those rights. According to her they are now empowered to advocate for those rights in a way that will not be a challenge to their male counterparts or even husbands. “We are a family and so should stay a family, but we must not be disadvantaged,” says Yabum Tension.

The Government representative, Mr. Jobo Samba, Director of GIS and Remote Sensing and Head of the National Land Policy at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Environmentsend his remarks of appreciation to FAO, Green Scenery and support of the entire community for actively engaging in the project which is in line with the Sierra Leone National Land Policy. MrSamba also acknowledged the financial support from development partners like the Irish Aid and Government of Germany who have supported the implementation of the National Land Policy and VGGT in Sierra Leone. He affirmed Government’s commitment and support towards all initiatives aimed at up-scaling this successful pilot project. He echoed the need for enhancement of the capacity of communities who are directly charged with the responsibility of managing their land resources in a sustainable manner.

The keynote remarks were made by the FAO Country Representative, Dr. Nyabenyi Tipo who appreciated the Government of Sierra Leone for the partnership they are cordially enjoying and assured FAO’s commitment to that partnership. She acknowledged the role of the District and Chiefdom Authorities in the implementation of the project and praised the monumental corporation of the communities especially the women who where part of the process, from the inception of the initiative in the villages to the completion of the exercise culminating to the handing over of the maps. She impressed that this was a show of commitment on the part of the women and she encouraged them to continue in that spirit. She cautioned those who received the maps tokeep them well and safe as theyare a security to their land. As for the village and the cluster of villages presented to the chiefs, these she said must be always made public for reason of transparency and accountability. She promised the scaling up phase of the project emphasising that three new villages in Makonteh chiefdom would be included in the mapping exercise while those villages that have been mapped will be accorded levels of assistance with livelihoods and economic empowerment. The FAO Representative then received the maps from the implementing partners Green Scenery, UPHR and then handed them over for distribution to the Chiefdom Authorities and land owning families. Among other speakers included, Dr. Samuel Mabikke, the FAO Land Tenure Officer who was directly in charge of implementing this project, Mr. Joseph Rahal- the Executive Director of Green Scenery, and Mr. Alieu Badara Kanu the Director of United for the Protection of Human Rights (UPHR) who chaired the event. The event was accentuated by fanfare of drumming from the women, thebubu instrumental and singing and refreshments.

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