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Post War Development in Liberia
   
 
 
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Post War Development in Liberia

 
Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:15
 
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by Emmanuel Zawolo Suah
EPOS Notepad

 

The Liberian civil war and resultant population displacements created challenging and complex problems around land ownership that have become a key component of reconciliation and sustainable peace building efforts. Many ignore land acquisition procedures due to inadequate information, breakdown of law and order, and collapse of functional institutions for allocating land. In many instances, disputants rarely know where or at least how to resolve their land conflict and which type of land dispute goes to which local authority, when, where, how, etc.

The new Land Commission is over-burdened by conflicting statutory and customary (traditional) land use systems, false claims against citizens whose documents were lost in the war, and destruction of many government records. There is also evidence of wrong judgments rendered by local leaders, both mistakenly and purposely. It is thus desirable to resolve land disputes at the lowest level possible—between citizens, families, or communities. This need is being addressed through the training of local practitioners of land dispute resolution. Women are still marginalized in most communities in terms of land or property ownership due to limited advocacy for women rights for land and property. In most cases, women lost their dead husband property to surviving family members (especially the late man’s brother or father). It is sometimes dangerous especially if the woman did not bear a children or child for the dead man; she maybe throw out of the property. Some women also facilitate their own marginalization; except awareness is created on basis rights of women, some refuse to accept that they have right.

Henceforth, we facilitate local land dispute resolution in rural Liberia communities to elaborate an alternative dispute resolution method known as facilitated negotiation. This is a participatory and sustainable approach that fosters a forum where land and property disputants can freely exchange ideas and amicably generate options for resolution. Strategies to enhance the capacity and understanding of community leaders, local authorities, ordinary community residents and other social groupings on land issues and provide them the facilitated negotiation skills through interactive training sessions.

Sample Case Studies

- Town X claims that town Y is encroaching on its land; both towns allege that the other is not respecting their original boundary.  This has broken down all interchange and cooperation between both towns.

- When Mr. Sumo returned after the war, he found that Mr. Flomo had erected a building and was living on his land.

- The Yarkpawolo brothers deny their sisters access to their late father’s land, saying women cannot own property because they themselves are properties, and property cannot own another property. Legislation passed in 2005 allows women to inherit and own land and property; but most citizens are unaware of this. The sisters feel hurt, and both groups threaten violence.

Most communities in rural Liberia remain inaccessible in terms of motor road due to the 15 year conflict; almost everyone lives in abject poverty. No safe drinking water, school building and health care delivery system. To access school or health facility one must walk at least 5-8 kilometers away.  However, most of these communities carry on their own development; they group themselves to carry on manner road.


Last modified on Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:32
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