Local Govt. Minister demands community inclusion in VGGT implementation


June 16, 2016 By Alusine  Sesay

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Maya Kaikai, has stated that implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Tenure of Governance (VGGT) could only be translated into meaningful change when local communities are able to use it in the proper management of natural resources.

He said it was important that the developed guidelines were aligned into policies and affirmed by legislations so that they could be successfully implemented, thus affirming his ministry’s continued support in working with various VGGT structures in making the operationalisation of the guidelines into a reality in communities.

Minister Kaikai was speaking at a multi-stakeholder workshop on VGGT organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the Family Kingdom Complex, Aberdeen, west of Freetown.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Arrow Bockarie Esq., said the guidelines dictate recognition and protection of the rights of people to access and use what he referred to as treasured resources in a fair and responsible manner, harnessing sustainability in all regards, together with its benefits of enhanced food security, wealth creation and improvement of the environment.

He stated that his ministry had been fully participating in the implementation process of the VGGT.

“We are represented in all tiers of the implementation framework – the Technical Working Group, the Steering Committee and the Inter-Ministerial Task Force. We participated in the legal assessment exercise of the legislations governing the land, forestry and fisheries sectors,” he said.

He said his ministry, while reviewing the Registration of Instrument and Civil Registration Bills, endeavoured to seek inputs from a VGGT perspective from the FAO, which he said were duly considered.

He noted that another key area of interest was alternative grievance redress mechanism in the land sector, particularly with numerous complaints arising over land transactions.

The ministry, he said, applauded the dynamic collaboration and participation of numerous stakeholders of tenure governance in the country, working together as a family under the umbrella of the VGGT.

“Through this project we would see ourselves as partners in development and share knowledge and experience by providing updates and insights on the activity each undertakes. This has fully illustrated the sentiment of national ownership of the VGGT implementation in Sierra Leone,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Hon. Marie Jalloh, said the conception and implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Governance of Tenure of Land was global acknowledgement that acquisition of land for agricultural activities had often been a challenge.

She said the implementation of the guidelines in Sierra Leone was timely as it was being done at a time when they were needed most.

“You are all aware of the recent increased in large scale investment in the agriculture sector. That in itself has its attendant challenges which we as a ministry has and continue to contend with. It is our responsibility to manage that situation with increased interest in safeguarding the rights and duties of landowners and users,” she said.

She noted that responsible investment in agriculture was necessary for peace and stability in the country and national development and increased household wealth.