GBARNGA – ForumCIV Liberia in partnership with the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, the Bong Chapter has concluded a day-long Knowledge Exchange Session on the Local Government Acts and the Land Rights Laws’ in Gbarnga, Bong County.
ForumCiv is Swedish largest civil society organization that is working on advocacy and capacity building in Central America, south-east Asia, East, and West Africa, and Eastern Europe.
Giving an overview of the program on May 27, 2022, the Country Manager for ForumCIV, Mr. Asa David Chon, said the institution was established in 1995 by a Swedish organization and is currently operating with one hundred eight Swedish organizations with the vision to see and adjust sustainably and contribute to achieving and extending their lives positively.
He said since the establishment of the organization in Liberia it has been operating a program titled ‘sustainable ownership program’ with a focus to support Civil Society organizations that are based in the rural parts of Liberia in other to effectively participate in governance, promote democracy and human rights, and the management and sustainability of the environment.
He said the program came to an end on 31 December 2021, noting that during the running of the program the organization was able to have worked with several Civil Society organizations within three of Liberia’s fifteen counties namely Bomi, Bong, and Grand Gedeh Counties, and provided grants to over thirty-five civil society organizations.
According to Mr. Chon, his organization’s active program that is currently in progress is titled “Our land a pathway to a sustainable ownership and used of Land by Women and youths” and has been in effect since January of this year and will be ending on December 31, 2025.
He said his entity signed a new grant agreement recently valued at 50.7 million Swedish Krona with the Embassy of Sweden near Monrovia to implement the program in Liberia.
Mr. Chon said the program is focusing on supporting Civil Society organizations, women, and youth, from rural communities in Bomi, Bong, and Grand Gedeh Counties.
He then named the training of females to become licensed Land surveyors, establishing programs for students from Cuttington University, CEPRES University, BCTC, and other institutions of learning to prepare them with the needed skills for the job market, and establishing a resource center that will be well equipped with computers, Internet, reading materials among other as focal areas the program intents.
Mr. Chon said the only way Liberia can have a sustainable change and development is when citizens are involved in the decision-making process of the Country.
The day-long knowledge exchange program was observed under three sections including ‘Roles of non-state actors ( CSOs, NGOs, Private Sector, Academia, and communities) in the implementation and promotion of the Local Government Act, Progress and challenges in the operationalization of both Land Rights Acts, and the Local Governance Act-Laws, and Roles of the Legislature in the implementation and promotion of the Land Rights and local government acts.
Providing his expertise on the roles of the Legislature in the implementation and promotion of the Land rights and local Government acts, Bong County Senator Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa, said under his leadership as Internal Affairs Minister doing former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s regime the Land rights acts was crafted by the legislature with the help of other international partners including the Swedish Government, United Nations, and the United Nations Development Programs.
Senator Tokpa said former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was mostly involved in making sure that the bill is passed into law, noting that she didn’t want to be imperial President nor did she want her successor to be.
Further responding to the question concerning the implementation of the Land Rights Act, Senator Tokpa said the implementation of laws lies in the confines of the executive branch of government, not the Legislature, adding that the function of the Legislature is Lawmaking, Oversight, and Representation.
He then used the medium to thank FORUMCIV Liberia and the partnering CSOs for undertaking such an initiative.
Participants of the FORUMCIV Liberia Knowledge Exchange Session were drawn from the thirteen administrative districts of Bong County which included Chiefs, women, the Academia, and the Media among others.
The program was held under the theme: “Promoting decentralization and inclusion through the 2018 Land Rights and Local Government Acts.”