Eight Communities Issued Statutory Titled Land Deeds

MONROVIA-The Government of Liberia through the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) on June 23, 2023, officially issued statutory land-titles deeds and maps to eight customary communities in Nimba, Sinoe, Maryland, and Grand Cape Mount Counties under the project “Sustaining Peace and Reconciliation through Land Governance and Dispute Resolution Mechanism,” supported and financed by the United Nations Peace-building Fund (PBF).

The PBF project, under the Liberia Multi-Partner Trust Fund (LMPTF), is implemented by UNDP in partnership with UNWomen, WFP, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

The Chairman of the LLA Attorney J. Adams Manobah, Sr. at the official presentation ceremony held at the Peace Empire Hall in Gompa City, Nimba County, expressed thanks and appreciation to President George M. Weah, and the 54th Legislature for passing and signing into law the Land Rights Act of 2018. He said the signing of the act became a fundamental step in Liberia’s land reform.

Chairman Manobah in his official remarks on behalf of the Board of Commissioners and staff of the LLA called on Law Makers to always consider the Land Rights Act and the interest of communities when signing concessions which he said will buttress the efforts and commitment of the government to Liberia’s land reform. He called on the communities and county authorities across Liberia to continue to work with the LLA so that more communities can obtain statutory titles to their customary lands.

Chairman Manobah praised the LLA technical team headed by Julius Kawa, Director, Land Policy and Planning, and the County Land Administrators (CLAs) across the four project counties who worked with other team members for the smooth implementation and completion of the project, noting that, it is a clear demonstration of the LLA’s ability to do more if provided the needed technical and financial support adding that it is the desire of the LLA leadership to work tirelessly to ensure that communities are issued deeds for their lands.

“The LLA is thankful to the United Nations Peace-building Fund family for providing the fund. The law signed by H. E. President Dr. George M. Weah was never a mistake but hopes that Liberians will never again be seen as squatters but as owners of their lands,” the LLA Chairman said.

He stressed that Liberia’s civil war was not just based on power but on land as well, adding, ‘We are aware that the implementation of the LRA rests on the shoulders of us all, hence it is my hope that we all work to maintain the peace we now enjoy today and collectively seek the interest of the Liberian people as we drive towards Liberia’s land reform’.

The LLA Boss further expressed thanks and appreciation to Superintendents and traditional leaders across the four project counties for their cooperation and support and to partners for providing financial and technical support to the project which is aimed at supporting the government of Liberia through the LLA implement the Land Rights Act and the Local Government Act (LGA) to uphold and protect community and women’s rights to land and to reduce inter-communal tensions and conflicts.

In his remarks, UNDP Liberia Resident Representative Louis Kuukpen applauded the LLA and its Board of Commissioners under whose leadership such a great milestone was achieved, for driving the land reform process which is a direct demonstration of the government’s commitment to the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

“Today’s event is a clear manifestation of the government’s commitment to the four cardinal principles and spirits of the Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) on giving power to the people, creating an economy that is resilient, sustaining the peace, and promoting governance and transparency. It is important to also know that the utilization of the land will not only be a source of livelihood but a source of economic empowerment and job creation,” Kuukpen said.

He stressed that communities’ ownership of the titled deeds was catalytic to strengthening land governance and mitigating land conflicts in Liberia.

“We are delighted by the contribution of this project to the primary objective of sustaining peace, social cohesion, harmony, tranquility, co-existence amongst families, and reconciliation at the community level. The issuance of titled deeds now gives communities ownership to their lands and will prevent future land disputes and conflicts,” UNDP Liberia Resident Representative a.i. noted.

Kuukpen wants local officials, especially the Community Land Development Committees (CLDC) to ensure that the deeds are protected and placed at the disposal of all members of the community ensuring that they are all aware of this significant milestone.

Also making remarks at the ceremony, Nimba County Superintendent, Nelson Korquoi, mentioned that the presentation of the deeds is a clear indication that Liberia is gradually driving toward land reform, peace, and economic empowerment for all.

Superintendent Korquoi said the completion of the project has brought great joy to the people of Nimba, particularly the people of Gbeyee and Veiyee Clans, expressing gratitude to the Liberian leader for signing into law the Land Rights Act that gives rights to the people of Liberia.

In a joint statement from CSOs working on land and delivered on behalf of their colleagues, Alphonso Henries, and Nyan Flomo, said this is a plus and a hope for Liberia’s land sector as the country drives toward land reform. They said CSOs in Liberia will continue to work with the LLA so that the right thing is done in the sector. They further called on partners to work with the LLA so that other communities in Liberia can obtain deeds to their lands.

The communities that were issued deeds include, Zodua, Zogbo, and Manobah Clans, Kao and Lower Kao clans, Twainsiebo clan, Gbeyee and Veiyee clans.

The issuance of legally probated titled land deeds to project-affected communities will in effect replace tribal certificates (if any) informally administered by local elders, but often challenged in courts of law.

It followed a series of processes including boundary harmonization and confirmatory land survey and mapping exercise supported by UNDP, which identified and clarified all existing boundary points between and amongst adjacent communities, including disputed boundaries in the targeted counties.

Also, during these processes, the CLMDC was established, by-laws developed, awareness conducted, and the targeted communities went through the stages of profiling.

The project “Sustaining Peace and Reconciliation through Land Governance and Dispute Resolution Mechanism” started in 2020 and lasted for three years up to 2023.

One major objective of the project was to assist selected communities go through the process of customary land formalization as prescribed by the Land Rights Acts. The project mainly focused on communities whose land concessions are currently operating to be able to ease the level of disenchantment between the communities and the concession.

During the implementation of the project, the issue of women’s land rights and their involvement in decision-making regarding land was given priority.

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