May 30, 2016
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) on 23 – 26 May, 2016 convened the Learning Programme, Governing Land for Women and Men, to Support Gender-sensitive and Responsible Governance of Land Tenure.
This is the second learning programme delivered in Sierra Leone as part of the broader capacity development efforts to support human and institutional capacity development on the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forestry in the context of Food Security (VGGT) at the national level.
The four days learning programme was organised at Tokeh, in the Western Rural District. The workshop brought together forty-six participants from Sierra Leone and Liberia representing various sectors, including legal and gender experts, government officials, civil society organisations, producers’ organisations, women’s groups, private sector and academia.
The VGGT provides opportunities for advancing gender equality in the governance of land tenure. They highlight the centrality of gender equity to responsible governance of natural resources. The course covered all areas related to the governance of tenure and provided guidance to ensure that both women and men’s land rights are protected and respected. Such topics include policy and legal frameworks, participatory policymaking, land-related formal and informal institutions, services delivered by land administration institutions as well as communication.
According to the National Coordinator of the VGGT project in Sierra Leone, Dr. Fatmata Kebbay-Sesay, the objective of the learning programme was to broaden the knowledge of the participants, create an interactive platform to increase communication among stakeholders working on issues related to gender and tenure security in Sierra Leone and Liberia and to translate knowledge into practice by trying to make changes in practical ways, through action plans that incorporate gender concerns into their existing programs.
The Assistant FAO Representative – Programme, Joseph Brima stated that the comprehensive learning programme will complement the skills and knowledge of technical staff within relevant government institutions and civil society organisations as Sierra Leone continues to face many challenges in the areas of managing its natural resources.
“The voluntary guidelines provide a framework for the effective management of natural resources, but understanding the use of the guidelines and gaining experience on how they are being implemented are requisite skills that will ensure the achievement of the goal of responsible governance”. He added.
In her keynote address, the Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment who also doubles as the Chairman of the VGGT inter-ministerial committee, Madam Diana Konomanyi lauded the effort of FAO in convening the two countries to discuss a topical issue that is crucial to the peace and stability of both countries.
Madam Konomanyi emphasised the importance of the learning programme and stated that land issues remain to be major problem that poses serious challenges in boundary delimitation and women’s rights in the country. “This program is close to my heart,” she said.
She requested to participate in the e-learning platform to have a better understanding on the VGGT programme. She pledged government support towards the process and encouraged the participants, especially women to take advantage of the learning programme.
Speaking on behalf of the Liberian delegation, the Director of the Interim Land Taskforce, Mr. Stanley Toe, explained that Liberia’s Land Commission was created in 2009 because land issues posed serious threat to the peace and stability of the country. “The Commission proposes policy, legal and institutional reform,” he said. “The draft Land Rights Bill and proposed Land Authority Bill are pending enactment by the National Legislature.”
The learning programme enabled participants to link the Voluntary Guidelines to their own situation and prepare action plans that incorporate the gender component of the Guidelines into their work and activities. They are expected to replicate the experience in the provinces and counties of their respective countries.