Liberia: Persons with Disabilities Sensitized on Land Rights Act
Monrovia – The Liberia Land Authority (LLA) and the National Commission on Disability embarked on public information and outreach campaigns on the Land Rights Act focusing more on what it described as ‘forgotten” groups in the Liberian society, such as Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
The LLA is mindful of the National Action Plan on PWDs and based on its core values of Transparency, Fairness, Accountability, and Integrity as contained in its five-year Strategic Plan (2018-2023), the regional sensitization programmes are critical in the use and management of land in the Country.
Funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), access to information by vulnerable groups including PWDs, is imperative in fostering respect for their rights and inclusiveness in accessing land without discrimination.
At the Sensitization programmes held in Tubmanburg, Bomi County and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, the Acting Chairman of LLA Adams Manobah stressed the need for more opportunities to be given to vulnerable groups across the country.
Mr. Manobah noted that equal access to information is key, in ensuring that more attention be given to groups with disabilities as required by Law, to undertake meaningful activities such as farming and doing business for income generation.
“See your disability as just a shortcoming; you have major roles to play in contributing meaningfully to the society,” He told the participants.
Adam Manobah lauded the support from UNDP and underscored that the marginalization of people with disabilities in Liberia, over their rights to land and its resources is intolerable.
The support provided by UNDP in this endeavor, is aimed at creating a platform that will inform on how to acquire, use and manage the various land tenure categories, as well as, the functions and responsibilities of the Liberia Land Authority, the agency of Government with the regulatory mandate for land matters.
Representing UNDP at the events, the Programme Associate of the Governance and Public Institution portfolio, Boye Johnson, emphasized that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 is clear on observing the rights of disabled groups to education, health, justice and empowerment.
Johnson, who proxy for Resident Representative Pa Lamin Beyai, committed UNDP to buttressing policy level efforts that are designed to strengthen the national Pro Poor Agenda of lifting people out of poverty.
At the same time, the Executive Director of the National Commission on Disability Ricardia Dennis, urged beneficiaries to use the knowledge to spread the information regarding land issues, within their communities.
“Knowledge when used wisely, helps you to encounter power and enjoy life,” Dennis said.
Despite the principle of equality, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), may not enjoy the benefits of land ownership, particularly in communities with customary land.
This is due in large part, to negative attitude and stereotyping, and the widely held belief that PWDs are weak, incapable and unable to make decisions regarding land governance.
This is a situation which is abundantly evident in their marginal participation, if any, in consultations and decision making concerning land.
Indeed, they have issues, but have never featured prominently in programs and activities related to land neither have they been specifically targeted for awareness on land matters.
The sensitization and public outreach activities supported by UNDP, give them an opportunity to raise questions and share experiences around their rights, status and responsibilities pertaining to land issues in the country.
Some of the issues highlighted and discussed during the outreach activities include: Challenges of People with Disabilities and how they can contribute to the land sector of Liberia; Protecting land rights for women and girls with disabilities; understanding the institutional and organizational arrangements of the LLA; distinctions of the four (4) categories of land ownership under the Land Rights Act of 2018; implementation of the Land Rights Act and how marginalized groups and people with disabilities are considered under the Law; concerns and suggestions to increase awareness so that people with disabilities can benefit from land owning communities.