The four days learning programme brought together 64 participants from Sierra Leone and Liberia representing various sectors, including legal and gender experts, government officials, civil society organisations, producers’ organisations, women’s groups, private sector and academia.
According to the National Coordinator of the VGGT project in Sierra Leone, Dr. Fatmata Kebbay-Sesay, the objective of the learning programme was to broaden the knowledge of the participants, create an interactive platform to increase communication among stakeholders working on issues related to gender and tenure security in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Also to translate knowledge into practice by trying to make changes in practical ways, through action plans that incorporate gender concerns into their existing programs.
The Assistant FAO Representative Programme, Joseph Brima stated that the comprehensive learning programme will complement the skills and knowledge of technical staff within relevant government institutions and civil society organisations as Sierra Leone continues to face many challenges in the areas of managing its natural resources.
“The voluntary guidelines provide a framework for the effective management of natural resources, but understanding the use of the guidelines and gaining experience on how they are being implemented are requisite skills that will ensure the achievement of the goal of responsible governance”. He added.
In her keynote address, the Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment who also doubles as the Chairman of the VGGT inter-ministerial committee, Madam Diana Konomanyi lauded the effort of FAO in convening the two countries to discuss a topical issue that is crucial to the peace and stability of both countries.
Madam Konomanyi emphasised the importance of the learning programme and stated that land issues remain to be major problem that poses serious challenges in boundary delimitation and women’s rights in the country. “This program is close to my heart,” she said.
She requested to participate in the e-learning platform to have a better understanding on the VGGT programme. She pledged government support towards the process and encouraged the participants, especially women to take advantage of the learning programme.
Speaking on behalf of the Liberian delegation, the Director of the Interim Land Taskforce, Mr. Stanley Toe, explained that Liberia’s Land Commission was created in 2009 because land issues posed serious threat to the peace and stability of the country.
“The Commission proposes policy, legal and institutional reform,” he said. “The draft Land Rights Bill and proposed Land Authority Bill are pending enactment by the National Legislature.”
The learning programme enabled participants to link the Voluntary Guidelines to their own situation and prepare action plans that incorporate the gender component of the Guidelines into their work and activities.