Public Information on Land and Natural Resource Reform (LR0010)
Action Plan: Liberia, Second National Action Plan, 2015-2017
Action Plan Cycle: 2015
Lead Institution: MIA, Land Commision (or future Land Authority), Sustainable Developent Institute, Governance Commission, Law Reform Commission
Support Institution(s): LMC, TGCI, CENTAL, concerned concession companies
Policy AreasExtractive Industries, Land and Spatial Planning, Public Participation
Carry out a broad stakeholders consultations in the county(ies) concerned to increase citizens’ understanding about issues of
land and natural resources. Performance Indicators: Number of people, companies or agencies whose views were gathered as a result of the consultation
IRM Midterm Status Summary
For Commitment details, see Liberia Progress Report 2015-2017.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Cluster: Accessible Information on Land Reform/Commercial Land Use
1.4 Make accessible to the public information on proposed reforms in the Land and Natural Resources sectors
Ministry of Internal Affairs, Land Commission (or future Land Authority) Sustainable Development Institute, Governance Commission, Law Reform Commission. Additional support from Liberia Media Center, The Global Citizen’s Initiative, CENTAL, concerned concession companies, 20 August 2015 – 20 March 2016).
· 1.4.1 Carry out a broad stakeholders consultations in the county(ies) concerned to increase citizens’ understanding about issues of land and natural resources
Ministry of Internal Affairs, Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), Land Commission (or future Land Authority), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry Development Authority, Ministry of Mines & Energy, National Investment Commission, Ministry of Justice, National Bureau of Concessions, National Traditional Council. Additional support from Liberia Media Center, The Global Citizen’s Initiative, CENTAL, CEMESP, concerned concession companies, 20 August 2015 – 20 May 2016).
· 1.5.I Publish information on acres (hectares) for each commercial land use right
· 1.5.2 Publish accurate map of location of each commercial land use right via a map-based web platform, in addition to providing hard copies of proposed land-use allocations to affected populations who don’t have access to the internet.
In Liberia, land reform is a pressing issue in two key areas. The first is the legal status of customary land rights; the second is the ownership of trees and other forest resources on community forest lands. This commitment aims to provide information to the public on proposed reforms in the land and natural resources sectors, and to ensure material on commercial land use rights is available to the public.
Commitment 1.4 This commitment outlines activities for providing information to the public about land and natural resource use and how communities may be affected. Prior to implementation of the action plan, there was little to no publicly available information on land use. Stakeholders report that some data on forest cover were available from Global Forest Watch, but specific information on natural resource rights, concessions and community lands was non-existent. Implementation of this commitment could empower stakeholders by increasing their understanding of land and natural resources.
Commitment 1.5 aims to increase citizens’ knowledge of revenue generated from the extractive sector. Implementation will address the lack of information as to whether concessionaires in the extractive sector are paying their fair share of taxes, and whether they are using only demarcated land not subject to competing claims of ownership or tenure, as recognized in the Land Rights Policy. Making information on commercial land use publicly available could transform citizens’ access to information on land ownership and mediate conflicts over specific areas in which citizens and companies have competing land ownership claims.
Commitment 1.4: Substantial
The government’s self-assessment reports that the implementation of this commitment has been substantial. At the midterm, a report on revenue receipts and payments, Beneficial Ownership Disclosure (BOD), a scoping study in the mining sector, and a Simplified Contract Matrix in the extractive sectors have been made publicly available. In February 2016, the National Bureau of Concessions (NBC) launched a public platform with data from all relevant concessions sectors (forestry, agriculture, mining, oil and gas, and public-private partnerships). For more information, please see the 2015–2016 IRM midterm report.
Commitment 1.5: Substantial
This commitment has been substantially completed. Information on acres (hectares) of land for commercial use and the affiliated contracts and agreements have all been uploaded on Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency’s (LEITI) website.[Note21: Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative(LEITI), http://www.leiti.org.lr] A Concession Information Management System (CIMS) has also been developed and launched. This tool allows users to view each commercial land use right via a map-based web platform. However, the IRM researcher notes that locations mapped for commercial mining rights overlap with protected areas on the map, and there is limited information available on private deeds, community ownership, or how conflicts are to be mediated. For more information, please see the 2015–2016 IRM midterm report.
Commitment 1.4: Completed
The commitment seeks to ensure the public is informed on proposed reforms in the Land and Natural Resources sectors through broad based stakeholders’ consultations in the counties to increase citizens’ understanding of land and natural resources issues.
LEITI has conducted broad based stakeholders’ consultations in the six counties and in concession areas to disseminate the abridged contract matrix in an initiative which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative (LAVI).[Note22: Interview with LEITI representatives, IRM researcher, December 2017, https://www.dai.com/our-work/projects/liberia-accountability-and-voice-initiative-lavi] According to meeting minutes and the Deputy Head of Secretariat, Myer W. Saye, LEITI conducted town hall meetings which informed community members and created an interactive forum about relevant concession agreements, economic features, social responsibilities and environmental controls, as well as disclosure of Social Development Funds payments received by the government from relevant companies in the extractive sector.[Note23: LEITI meeting minutes, http://www.leiti.org.lr/uploads/2/1/5/6/21569928/draft_msg_regular_meeting__minutes__december_2017.pdf This initiative is intended to promote natural resource transparency through information sharing.
The Land Authority has established sub offices in the counties to provide guidelines and procedures for the Sale of Public Land, the Land Rights Policy, the Act against Criminal Conveyance of Land, and the draft Land Rights Act. Also, as part of this commitment, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has engaged citizens in Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa counties as part of its 'Resource and You' project.[Note24: Resource and You, https://spark.adobe.com/page/xCYRC/] In these locations CENTAL conducted dialogue forums where company authorities, public officials and community members discussed pertinent issues relating to land, social agreements, and management and use of natural resources.
Commitment 1.5: Substantial
CENTAL and LEITI have conducted various community outreach activities to target community members who do not have internet access and provide information to audiences that are literate.[Note25: Mr. Thomas Doe Nah, Executive Director CENTAL, interview by IRM researcher, December 2017.] This has been done through town hall meetings, and audio and print media using local groups and radio stations. The Ministry of Internal Affairs also partnered with CENTAL to organize public interactive forums in towns and villages where issues and concerns on private deeds and community ownership concession agreements were addressed.
Furthermore, the Sustainable Development Institute and Platypus Productions have developed a secure mobile reporting application to improve citizen reporting on what is happening to natural resources in rural Liberia. The simple and secure app – This Is My Backyard (TIMBY)[Note26: This is My Back Yard (TIMBY), http://www.makingallvoicescount.org/project/involving-citizens-in-decision-making-processes-in-liberia/] – feeds into a mapping platform and provides information that creates narrative around land-related conflicts and concession agreements. These short narratives, combined with creative animations, help engage policymakers and audiences across the country on land-related activities.
According to the information provided by the government to Accountability Lab,[Note27: Antony Selmah (Accountability Lab), contacted by IRM staff, 28 May 2018. an internal map-web-based cadastre[Note28: Liberia National Concession Portal, http://portals.flexicadastre.com/liberia/] has been developed by the National Bureau of Concessions to host all land-related information. However, the information has not been uploaded to the website due to the delay in the passage of the Land Rights Act by the National Legislature. The government informed the representatives from Accountability Lab that with the passage of the Land Rights Act, the information on land map and other key issues, such as private deeds and community ownership, will be made public.
Did it Open Government?
Access to Information: Major
The broad-based stakeholders’ consultations have had a major impact on providing information, creating a space for interactive sessions with local authorities, companies and the general public. According to the information provided to the IRM researcher by CENTAL and LEITI, community leaders, youths, women, elderly and physically challenged citizens were represented in the fora. Initially, company authorities seldom held meetings with the local community. Such meetings were held in the capital city, Monrovia, with top government officials. According to CENTAL and LEITI, community members are better informed about their land rights and claims as a result of public information campaigns and dispute resolution meetings for overlapping claims.
Access to Information: Marginal
Community outreach activities organized in towns and villages provided more information about land use and tenure to community members. Community members expressed that prior to the outreach activities organized by CENTAL and LEITI, they were misinformed and that now they have a much broader understanding that can help them to protect and claim their rights.[Note29: Marvin Tokpah, Executive Director, MPARD Nimba County, interview by IRM researcher.] However, the map web-based platform has not been implemented yet, limiting access to information on commercial land use.
Commitment 1.4 was not carried forward.
Commitment 1.5 is carried forward into the next action plan (Commitment 7). This commitment aims to make more information on land ownership and rights available to the public. It also proposes the creation of a standing mechanism for citizens to resolve land disputes through the Land Authority.
A five-year (September 2017–2022) World Bank-funded project (US$7 million) will be providing support to the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) to strengthen its institution capacity through the implementation of four components. The project will, inter alia, address tribal land ownership and create an accountability mechanism for community members seeking redress on unlawful violations on their land.