Two-year Liberian Study Finds Urgent Need for Legal Protection of Community Land Claims

To download the full report, click here.

MONROVIA, LIBERIA: Namati, the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) have published the results of a two-year investigation into protecting the customary land claims of communities.

The report aims to inform Liberian policymakers and civil society advocates as they craft a new land policy for the country.

Liberia has one of the highest land concession rates in Africa. Land currently allocated to rubber, oil palm, and forestry concessions covers over 2.5 million hectares, or roughly 25% of the country. To stem the adverse affects of large scale land concessions on rural Liberians, protections for community land and natural resource rights are urgently needed.

The findings of this randomized controlled trial suggest that community land documentation processes are a low-cost, efficient, and equitable way of recognizing Liberian communities’ customary land claims, which in turn empowers them to direct the course of their own development. Such efforts have the potential to not only safeguard large numbers of families’ lands, but also to preserve the common lands and forests that communities depend upon for their livelihoods and survival.

Key Findings: Community land documentation activities should combine the technical task of mapping and titling community lands, the peace-building work of land conflict resolution, and the governance work of strengthening land and natural resource management.

The data indicate that when these efforts are joined, community land documentation processes have the potential to:

  • Resolve long-standing land disputes;
  • Improve governance and establish mechanisms to hold local leaders downwardly accountable;
  • Encourage transparency and equality in rule enforcement;
  • Stimulate communities to conserve and sustainably manage their natural resources;
  • Align community norms and practices with national law; and
  • Strengthen the rights of women, strangers and other vulnerable groups

Key Recommendation: The Liberian government must craft a land policy and legal framework that protects customary land claims and establishes clear,  achievable procedures for community land documentation. Implementation efforts should be backed by strong political will and the allocation of sufficient resources.

The report is part of the Community Land Protection Program‘s two year study on community land titling processes in Liberia, Uganda, and Mozambique.  

Click to download the International Report: Executive Summary | Full Version

January 24, 2013 | Namati