The work of Namati’s Liberian partner, the Sustainable Development Institute, has been captured on film by the climate change campaign organisation If Not Us Then Who. Made by Handcrafted Films for their Inspirational People strand, the short film shows the community mapping that rural people use to begin the process of protecting their lands.
In a country where over half of the land has been promised to or contracted to investors, leaving many rural Liberians landless and livelihood insecure, Namati and SDI are currently working with 65 communities to realize their rights and protect their customary land and natural resources.
To accompany the film SDI’s Ali Kaba and Namati’s Chelsea Keyser have written a blog post that originally appeared on the If Not Us Then Who website.
By Ali D. Kaba and Chelsea Keyser
The Government of Liberia has a long history of granting large tracks of land to foreign investors at the expense of the livelihoods of rural populations. As early as 1926, when other Sub-Sahara Africa countries were agitating for political freedom, the Liberian government signed a concession agreement with Firestone, an American owned rubber company, that transferred 1 million acres of the country’s land.This concession agreement left the customary owners of the land “squatters” or landless, and set a precedent for exploitative concession agreements in the years to come.
Fueled on the neo-liberal ideology for economic growth through private investment, a series of land based concessions for mining, forestry, and agricultural plantation were issued. By the late 1950s, as much as 15% of the country’s land had been placed under some form of contract agreement with foreign investors. And by 2010s, in a rush to “develop the country’s post-war infrastructure and institutions”, over half of the country’s land had been promised to or contracted to investors, leaving many rural Liberians landless and livelihood insecure. Although Liberia is rich in natural resources, the profits derived from the concession have not translated into equitable development for average Liberians. Liberia ranks 175 out of 187 on the Human Development Index, 2/3 of the population lives on under $1.25 per day,, 60% of all food is imported, and the country suffers from an unemployment rate of 85%.
However, over the past 8 years the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) and other Liberian civil society organizations have advocated for the strengthening of community’s rights over land and natural resources and a more transparent inclusive land allocation process. Their calls for reform have not gone unheard. The 2006 National Forest Reform Law, the 2009Community Rights Law, and the 2013 Land Rights Policy recognized for the first time in the country’s history, community’s rights over forest resources and customary land.. While these reform as written indicate a radical departure from the past, the journey from policy to practice has been slow and fraught with challenges from lack of political will to insufficient capacity to implement the law.
In this context, strong and expedient implementation of the legal framework that safeguards community’s rights to lands and natural resources is urgently necessary. SDI’s Community Land Protection Program (CLPP) and its partner, NAMATI, have been working with communities in Rivercess County since 2009 to test an efficient framework for community land tilting.
SDI and NAMATI’s approach relies on working with local structure, building on local knowledge and encouraging collective community participation to provide a mutually beneficial community land documentation process. The simple, low cost approach requires intensive field work to help communities establish local governance structure, draft community rules, agree on common boundaries with neighbors, and build their capacity to sustainably and equitably manage their land and resources. SDI is currently working with 65 communities in Liberia to realize their rights and protect their customary land and natural resources.
Supporting rural communities in Liberiato leverage these national laws to document their lands and protect their land and natural resources, also has the potential to foster remarkable changes: communities wrote down their customary rules for the first time in living memory, and then revised them to protect women’s rights, hold local leaders accountable, and align community norms and practices with national law. Moreover, the process led communities to resolve long-standing boundary disputes that had fueled local conflict for decades. Such outcomes are particularly critical in post-conflict regions riddled by years of violence, strife and corruption.
This is the direction that Liberia must continue to take to redefine its future. Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic, can become the model for developing innovative tools, approaches and practices to recognize and protect the land rights of its citizens, especially those in the rural areas. But, realizing the land rights of rural Liberians will require the continued support and investment of all stakeholders, the Liberian government, civil society, rural communities, private investors and the international community.
Last updated January 30, 2013.
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Welcome to the namati.org website (the “Site”) and the Legal Empowerment Network Forum (the “Forum”) operated by Namati, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Namati”, “we”, “us” or “our”). We share your concern about the protection of your personal information online.
This Policy describes our privacy practices and sets out your obligations and ours with respect to your use of the Site and the Forum. This Policy applies only to the Site and the Forum and does not necessarily apply to our offline collection of information.
Namati may collect and retain two types of information about Site and Forum visitors: (i) personal information that individual visitors voluntarily provide when interacting on the Site or Forum or on certain other occasions (such as via forms or in emails); and (ii) tracking data, which is data that is automatically collected from every Site and Forum visitor as they use and browse the site.
We may, from time to time, store and archive the information you submit to or through the Site and Forum. The information that we gather may include your name, title, and address, telephone number, email address, credit card number or other elements of personal information. In addition, if you contact us, we may keep a record of your correspondence, including any information contained therein.
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Our use of your Information involves various forms of communication with you, including:
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We retain the right to transfer or assign all information pursuant to a merger, purchase or other transaction relating to Namati or our assets.
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Personal information you submit via your member account, other than information provided or content posted by you to public areas of the Site as described below, is deleted from Namati’s records following the deletion of your account. However, such information may continue to be retained by third-party service providers to which it has been disclosed for one of the reasons listed above. Any financial records will be kept in accordance with Namati’s data retention policy.
Your Information is stored on Digital Ocean servers in New York, USA, and WPengine servers located in Texas, USA. When you provide personal information to us, we request your consent to transfer that personal information to the USA. The USA does not have an adequacy decision from the European Commission, which means that the Commission has not determined that the laws of the USA provide adequate protection for personal information. Although the laws of the USA do not provide legal protection that is equivalent to the EU GDPR, we safeguard your personal information by treating it in accordance with this Policy. We take appropriate steps to protect your privacy and implement reasonable security measures to protect your personal information in storage. We use secure transmission methods to collect personal data through our website. We also enter into contracts with our data processors that require them to treat personal information in a manner that is consistent with this Policy.
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The Forum uses data about your posts and other activity to make automated decisions about whether your posts are spam.
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Namati is concerned about the privacy protection of children who access the Internet and this website is not intended for children and we do not knowingly collect data relating to children. Accordingly, the Site and Forum are not intended for use by anyone under the age of 16, and we do not knowingly collect information from anyone under 16 years of age without the consent of a parent or guardian.
We reserve the right to disclose any information to comply with any law, regulation, decree, judgment, order, subpoena or any other governmental order (“Order”) without any obligation to contest or verify the accuracy of such Order.
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The section titles in this Policy are for convenience only and have no legal or contractual effect. The Site, the Learning Site, the Forum, and any third-party services they use, may be subject to additional terms and conditions regarding privacy and use of information. Your use of the Site and the Forum is subject to those terms and conditions, which are incorporated into this Policy by reference. In the event of an inconsistency between this Policy and any additional posted conditions, the provisions of the additional conditions shall control.
We may need to change the Policy from time to time in order to address new issues and to reflect changes on the Site or in the law. We reserve the right to revise or make any changes to the Policy, and your continued use of the Site subsequent to any changes to this Policy will mean that you agree to and accept such changes. You can tell if the Policy has been updated by checking the last revised date posted on the top of this page. Historic versions can be obtained by contacting us at email@example.com.
You can also access, remove, update or correct your information, and raise any questions or concerns regarding the Site or the Policy, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailing:
Namati Data Protection Officer
1616 P Street NW, Suite 101
Washington, DC 20036, USA
It is important that the personal data we hold about you is accurate and current. Please keep us informed if your personal data changes during your relationship with us.
You have the right to:
Request access to your personal data (commonly known as a “data subject access request”). This enables you to receive a copy of the personal data we hold about you and to check that we are lawfully processing it.
Request correction of the personal data that we hold about you. This enables you to have any incomplete or inaccurate data we hold about you corrected, though we may need to verify the accuracy of the new data you provide to us.
Request erasure of your personal data. This enables you to ask us to delete or remove personal data where there is no good reason for us continuing to process it. You also have the right to ask us to delete or remove your personal data where you have successfully exercised your right to object to processing (see below), where we may have processed your information unlawfully or where we are required to erase your personal data to comply with local law. Note, however, that we may not always be able to comply with your request of erasure for specific legal reasons which will be notified to you, if applicable, at the time of your request.
Object to processing of your personal data where we are relying on a legitimate interest (or those of a third party) and there is something about your particular situation which makes you want to object to processing on this ground as you feel it has an impact on your fundamental rights and freedoms. You also have the right to object where we are processing your personal data for direct marketing purposes. In some cases, we may demonstrate that we have compelling legitimate grounds to process your information which override your rights and freedoms.
Request restriction of processing of your personal data. This enables you to ask us to suspend the processing of your personal data in the following scenarios:
Request the transfer of your personal data to you or to a third party. We will provide to you, or a third party you have chosen, your personal data in a structured, commonly used, machine-readable format. Note that this right only applies to automated information which you initially provided consent for us to use or where we used the information to perform a contract with you.
Withdraw consent at any time where we are relying on consent to process your personal data. However, this will not affect the lawfulness of any processing carried out before you withdraw your consent. If you withdraw your consent, we may not be able to provide certain products or services to you. We will advise you if this is the case at the time you withdraw your consent.
You will not have to pay a fee to access your personal data (or to exercise any of the other rights). However, we may charge a reasonable fee if your request is clearly unfounded, repetitive or excessive. Alternatively, we could refuse to comply with your request in these circumstances.
We may need to request specific information from you to help us confirm your identity and ensure your right to access your personal data (or to exercise any of your other rights). This is a security measure to ensure that personal data is not disclosed to any person who has no right to receive it. We may also contact you to ask you for further information in relation to your request to speed up our response.
We try to respond to all legitimate requests within one month. Occasionally it could take us longer than a month if your request is particularly complex or you have made a number of requests. In this case, we will notify you and keep you updated.
If you live in an EEA Member State, all of which have adopted the EU GDPR and national , you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority about this policy and its application. The European Commission has a list of EU national data protection authorities here:
If you live in the United Kingdom, you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority, the ICO, about this policy and its application:
The Policy was updated in July 2022 to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations.