Sierra Leone: Local community & agricultural investor agree on land access rights after concerns over investor's failure to adequately consult landowners
Author: Sylvia Villa, Awoko (Sierra Leone), Published on: 6 November 2018
"Investors and landowners reach consensus on land governance"
Landowners in Zimmi, Makpele chiefdom, Southern Sierra Leone and Natural Habitat, an agricultural investment company have reached consensus on responsible governance of land tenure and access to rights to land. The peace agreement...was as a result of concern over land grabbing where large tracts of land in the chiefdom are leased to the commercial investor by a small fraction of community stakeholders. Nicolas Jengre, Country Director, Solidaridad West Africa, spoke on his organisation’s mandate to act as a peace negotiator for equal rights to land especially for women, protection of land rights and the livelihood of vulnerable people. Jengre further pointed out the overall objective is to create transparent land acquisition systems between rural communities and investors as to recognise and protect informal and traditional rights to land based on an inclusive consultation process with individual landowners.
Jengre underscored the essence of such agreements and its importance in answering the challenge of ending hunger and assuring food security of every child, woman and man in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way. The agreement, he further noted, is intended to give the investor and developers clear indications on best practices on the land acquisition steps. He also spoke on the Solidaridad mandate with regards the implementation of the voluntary guidelines on responsible governance of land stating, “The overarching goals are to achieve food security for all and support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. While supporting efforts towards the eradication of hunger and poverty, the guidelines are also intended to contribute to achieving sustainable livelihoods, social stability, housing security, rural development, environmental protection, and sustainable social and economic development.”