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Securing land tenure rights for farmers in Sierra Leone

Ministers sit with civil society and businesses to discuss cross-cutting issues on tenure governance.

©FAO/Sebastian Liste

Two-thirds of Sierra Leone’s population is involved in subsistence agriculture. Farmers – most of them women - operate in an informal and precarious system without any legal titles to their lands.  In the aftermath of the country’s 11 year civil war, the government of Sierra Leone began a long overdue process to modernise its land tenure system and put in place enabling policies so that each parcel of land could be put to its most economically valuable use.

Sierra Leone is no stranger to reforming policies or drafting laws on land tenure. What marked a departure from traditional policy-making was that for the first time in the country’s history, not only did ministers sit with civil society and businesses to discuss cross-cutting issues on tenure governance, but they also used the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forestry (VGGT) as a guiding force in drafting a new land policy that was fair, easy to implement and accepted by everyone.

“The success in implementing the VGGT comes as a direct result of technical working groups, a steering committee, an inter-ministerial task force and non-state actors such as Non-governmental organizations, Civil Society Organizations, private sector and traditional leaders all working together in a structured institutional framework,” said Jobo Samba, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Director of Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing, Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment.

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