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Walking with villagers: How Liberia’s Land Rights Policy was shaped from the grassroots

By: Ali Kaba, Madan Gaurav

This report published by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) in conjunction with Namati profiles an initiative in Liberia that sought to use the findings of a two-year research project with rural communities to inform and strengthen a policy advocacy campaign to influence Liberia’s Land Rights Policy. SDI’s Community Land Protection Program (CLPP) engaged with 20 communities in Rivercess county in southeastern Liberia, helping them harmonize community boundaries and devise local land governance structures. The experiences, concerns and aspirations of these communities formed the basis of SPI’s policy advocacy objectives and legitimized SLP’s campaign in the eyes of policymakers. Furthermore, community representatives were given an opportunity to speak directly with policymakers to inform them of the situation on the ground. As the lessons learned section of this report indicates, open lines of communication and the signing of two memorandums of understanding with the Land Commission tasked with drafting the Land Rights Policy greatly facilitated policy advocacy and gave SDI and Namati a place at the policymaking table. SDI and Namati’s efforts were integral in the formulation and passage of a progressive Policy, which recognizes customary land ownership as equal to private land rights and vests communities with authority to manage their lands and natural resources.

Keywords: land policy, community land rights, Private Use Permits (PUPs), customary land ownership.