The problems surrounding the access and ownership of land in Sierra Leone will be solved by the implementation of the National Land Policy, say country representatives at a session on Sierra Leon emerging best practices in Land policy and reforms at the ongoing Land Policy Conference in Addis Ababa.
Alphajoh Cham, Sierra Leone Deputy Director, Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and Environment said the new National Land Policy provided core stability on transparency and accountability of land matters
“The land policy is expected to address conflict and community challenges on land matters,” said Mr Cham
Christian Schulze, Natural Resources Management Officer, FAO Sierra Leone, said Sierra Leone is using the voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests (VGGT) and realizing good results.
“VGGT implementation significantly contributed to the formulation of the National Land Policy, as the document has over 90 paragraphs that are consistent with the VGGT guidelines,” said Schulze.
“The VGGT promote responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests, with respect to all forms of tenure: public, private, communal, indigenous, customary, and informal,” said Cham.
In addition, VGGT also serve as a reference and set out for the responsible governance of tenure. The guidelines provide a framework that States can use when developing their own strategies, policies, legislation, programs and activities. They allow governments, civil society, the private sector and citizens to judge whether their proposed actions and the actions of others constitute acceptable practices.
The VGGT were endorsed by CFS at a Special Session in May 2012 and since then implementation has been encouraged by G20, Rio+ 20, United Nations General Assembly and Francophone Assembly of Parliamentarians. They are also used as a reference by donor institutions. In 2014 CFS held a stocktaking event to follow progress on the rollout.
Regarding the land policy, Cham said there are still challenges that the country needs to be address for it to be implemented smoothly. They include wide private sector engagement, full involvement of communities and grassroots level, effective implementation of land policies, reflection of VGGT principles in the revised constitution, long standing disputes between communities and investors and proper enforcement through coherent legislation
The National land policy was approved in 2015 to address concerns with gender equality and social equity, promote responsive investment in agriculture and improve land tenure security for effective land use
Rexford Ahene, a land policy expert in Africa, said Sierra Leone is also implementing the Solutions for Open Land Administration (SOLA), to support increased transparency of land transactions and to expand electronic land registration.
SOLA, he said, provides an affordable way for automating land administration in line with national laws and practices.
The tool is designed to tap techniques to help ordinary citizens and local organizations in monitoring their tenure rights at the community level.