Sierra Leone: Despite the fact that a just concluded research discloses that women access to Land in four villages in Port Loko, have increased, Green Scenery on Wednesday 21st July 2021 renewed calls for the long-awaited land reform in the country.
In 2020, Green Scenery carried out a research to understand the impact of the 2020 FAO intervention “promoting women’s customary land rights in Sierra Leone” which is aimed at ensuring that rural women are better able to negotiate their rights to access, use and ownership of land by strengthening their capacity to understand their land rights and to advocate for the protection of their customary land rights.
During the course of the research, Green Scenery, identified 50 women in each community, of which 15 of these women in each of these communities were interviewed.
The research revealed that after land owning families demarcated the boundaries of their territory, recording the results on maps in the villages of Rosint and Matatie in Port Loko District, conflicts in these villages reduced drastically.
The research conducted also revealed that the village land committees created by the project are intended to act as custodians of the lands instead of the traditional chiefs, this they say is because in both villages, half of the committee members are women, noting that conflicts that they addressed may be solved, respecting the rights of women to land, adding that the communities have adopted bye-laws to protect women from discrimination in regard to land.
While it called on the Minister of Lands and other decision makers to take the process to its logical conclusion and to discuss the introduction of the bills into parliament as soon as possible, Green Scenery disclosed that more research is needed, adding that the research demonstrate necessity for the authorities to complete the land reform that was initiated six years ago.
Director of Research Equity, Elisa Scalise, opined that the issue of land reform is significant not just for Sierra Leone but for the sub-region. She added that the reform will make positive contribution to the lives of women in the country.
In his power point presentation, Yannick Wild, noted that the research was aimed at assessing the FAO project in promoting women’s customary land. He explained the content of the research to participants.
During the course of his presentation, Wild said their research disclosed that women are mostly excluded from acquiring land, except through their husbands or those who hailed from. He added that women who do not bear children find it extremely difficult to acquire land in these communities.
He continued that women haven’t any access to land after divorce, but will only do so if her divorced husband is generous. He opined that most women do not even know the legal rights in terms of acquiring land. However, Wild revealed that the trajectory has changed a little, for according to him, women are now included in the administration of land in the four communities which Green Scenery visited.
He furthered that mapping has been very helpful in these communities. He said men used to claim land belonging to women, but disclosed that there are now boundaries that have clarified land issues, for men can no longer claim land that belong to women. He also indicated that byelaws which are adopted protect women, for according to Green Scenery, no one has gone against these byelaws.
In her keynote remark, Country Representative, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Nyabenyi Tipo, said the land tenure system in Sierra Leone needs much attention. She attributed the non-availability of land to land degradation, climate change, but land tenure right she said is a compounded problem.
She said quality of governance remains very crucial to addressing issues of land in a given state. He acknowledged that government is trying to monitor and set a baseline on land issues in the country. She added that research of this nature is very important to addressing issues of land in the country.
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