Lessons from the Field: Complexities of Community Self-Identification in Liberia

Defining the boundaries and membership of a community is the first step in community land protection and documentation. These decisions require careful negotiation among a wide range of stakeholders and consideration of many social, political, cultural, and practical factors. Community definition should not be left to bureaucrats or external ‘experts’ because this may impose an inappropriate definition and deprives communities of a powerful opportunity for collective action. Rather, skilled facilitators should help communities to navigate the self-identification process to define their territories and membership. This Lesson from the Field shares strategies for supporting community self-definition in rural Liberia from Namati partner the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI).