Sierra Leone: ‘Women Are Still Marginalised in Land Ownership’

By Joseph S. Margai

Director of Green Scenery, Joseph Rahall, has disclosed that in Sierra Leone women are still marginalised in the ownership of land.

He made this disclosure during a four-day training of land rights activists on voluntary guidelines on responsible governance on tenure (VGGT) land and fisheries in the country, which commenced on 29 February at the Saint Edwards Secondary School Compound in Freetown.

He said women in the provinces are not allowed to own lands, thus creating a gap between them and men in the acquisition of lands in the country.

The Director of Green Scenery said the Voluntary Guidelines was coming at a time when the country needed it most to deal with issues such as customary practices and customary tenure rights of land.

"With the influx of many large scale land investors in the country, we should share ideas and/or experiences on the management and governance of livelihood resources (including land, forest, fisheries etc.) in various communities," he said.

During the training, a background history - the processes that led to the subsequent endorsement of the guidelines in 2012 by a special session of the General Assembly - and facts about the Guidelines was presented to participants, including the Sierra Leone chapter of the VGGT and the involvement of CSOs.

There was also a presentation on the Logic and Principles for Responsible Governance of Tenure, including the five General Principles and 10 Implementation Principles.

It was learnt that responsible tenure depends on whether or not these general principles are incorporated into policies, laws, institutions and services. When mapping the Actors and Roles of Tenure of Governance, participants from Sierra Leone and Liberia learnt what Land Governance is, who are the actors in tenure of governance and what are the roles of these actors.

Giving a brief country Status on Tenure Governance in Sierra Leone, participants said that traditional authorities collude with companies/high capital owners to disadvantage the poor land-owning families in the provinces. It was also discussed that there is corruption in the sale of land, especially in urban settings, where a single plot of land could be sold to more than one owner.

"There is awareness among communities about exploitation in large-scale land acquisition and most people have now refused to patronise with companies," they said.

Participants from Liberia said two workshops on VGGT had been held in their country and that one of which tried to address the issue of information dissemination and education of communities on the VGGT, adding that a Communication Strategy for communities which aims at full domestication of the VGGT is expected soon. They described their laws as good, although there was a dire need for robust enforcement mechanisms.

As recommendations, participants agreed that inter-ministerial roles and responsibilities relating to land governance should not be conflicting.

"Information sharing among CSOs on the status and process of VGGT is important. CSOs, though important actors in the process, but have no mainstream role. It was also important that knowledge about all relevant actors in tenure governance is key to the overall successful implementation of the VGGT and cross-border experience sharing is important for the successful implementation of the VGGT," they recommended.

Source All Africa

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