LTS Pilot Project Inspires Nimba Citizens
– Green Advocates Extolled for Project’s Implementation
A six month USAID sponsored Land Technology Solutions (LTS) Pilot Project implemented byResonance and Green Advocates International has made significant impact in Nimba County’s Blei Community Forest area.
The USAID Land Technology Solutions (LTS) Project, improve land and resources governance and strengthen property rights of communities through the use of the Mobile Applications to Support Tenure (MAST) mobile technology.The successful implementation of the Pilot Project by Green Advocates International from December 2018 to June 2019 has provided community residents the opportunity, particularly those who were trained to learn new skills, including the use of mobile phones to locate community boundaries and identify other forest resources and land use.
On August 9, 2019, representatives including chiefs, elders, women and youth leaders from 7 primary communities around the Blei Community Forest (Gbapa, Zolowee, Suakarzue, Gbobayee, Zortapa, Yolowee and Bassa Village) in Nimba County assembled in their numbers in Suarkarzue to express gratitude to USAID through Green Advocates International for the successful implementation of the pilot project; the participants in an exciting mood recommended extension of the project in other parts of the County.
The citizens added that the extension of the project to other parts of Nimba would significantly help alleviate land disputes amongst residents and provide adequate knowledge for forest management, resources and land use planning in the wider landscape and provide the opportunity for other communities to understand and appreciate the benefits of the project.
In separate remarks, the citizens confirmed that the USAID sponsored Land Technology Solution (LTS) Project was an eye-opener, adding that as rural dwellers, they did not have the full understanding of Liberia’s Land Rights Law until the intervention of Green Advocates International through the LTS Pilot project.
Martha Sonkalay of Suakarzue Town said “Green Advocates did well for us and we want the group to continue with us. We were enlightened; Green Advocate made us brave to speak about our land issues as well as land rights issues. Don’t go Green Advocate. The end of the Pilot does not mean you must go,” she pleaded with Green Advocates.
Moses Dokie Jr., a youth leader declared: “As a result of the project, we now know the total landscape we have and how to manage our land. We need Green Advocate to complete the job it started with us.”
For her part, Kona Mulubah asserted that the knowledge provided by Green Advocates International would help unborn generations to avoid land disputes between communities.
Uriah Yeaneay thanked Green Advocates for empowering them through the new skills learned that enable residents to demarcate their lands and identify forest resources and how to manage them, adding that long ago, some of their ancestors were engaged in land disputes since they did not know the demarcation of their forest and land.
Meanwhile, several chiefs, elders, women and youth leaders who also spoke during the daylong meeting appealed to USAID to continue its support to Green Advocates International to help the communities in efforts to protect their land from encroachment and invasion by concessionaires. “We need some level of guidance in the execution of the new skills learnedand we want Green Advocates to help us complete the Community Forestry Management Plan which they initiated in collaboration with FDA.”
The communities that benefited from the Pilot Project and their total demarcated land include: Gbapa, 9,030.75 Acres; Bassa Village, 738.57Acres; Zolowee, 7,380.21Acres; Zortapa, 7,168.34Acres; Yolowee, 2,467.91Acres; Gbobayee and Suakarzue 7,790.32Acres. These accumulated to a total land area of 34,576.10 acres.
When Green Advocates office in Monrovia was contacted, Aaron Abban, Office Administrator told reporters that the Land Technology Solutions – Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (LTS – MAST) Pilot project was designed to test and provide a framework for a more holistic approach to managing community forest resources and the wider landscape management.
According to him, the project was organized in three phases during its implementation: he named Forest Resource Mapping and monitoring; Wider Landscape Resource Mapping and Community Forest Management Plan (CFMP) Development.
Amongst other things, the USAID’s MAST allowed citizens to map and demarcate their land and resources in less time than the traditional GIS/GPS technologies.
A full assessment or inventory of the Blei Community Forest was executed by USAID Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability USAID – FIFES.Green Advocates and Resonance provided training to the Blei Communities including Sketch Mapping, Enterprise Development, Livelihood Development, Community Rights Law, Land Rights Act and Gender Equality, amongst otherswhich provided enlightenment on the use of the forest and the wider landscape.
In addition, a draft Community Forest Management Plan was developed to conserve and protect the biodiversity, cultural, ecological, economic, and environmental functions and values of the Blei Community Forest as well as its natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
For his part, Green Advocates’ Consultant, John Nimly Brownell added that the remaining activities of the LTS – MAST pilot project, including convening of a meeting of all the 40 communities around the Blei Forestry to inform them of the CFMP, completion the draft CFMP in collaboration with the FDA and the Blei primary communities as well as the Joint Community Forest Management Body have been turned over to USAID – FIFES (Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability) that is already working in some of the communities in Blei.
Green Advocates’ implementing partner, Resonance, has confirmed the successful implementation of the pilot project, adding that it was the group’s most recent success story from Liberia. “Resonances worked with Green Advocates International and adapted USAID’s Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST) to document and build an understanding of land and forest resources among stakeholders and beneficiaries in Blei Community Forest in Nimba County. “
According to Resonance, it recognized the need to customize the MAST and implement it through a participatory and inclusive program in the seven forest communities that were immediately adjacent to the Blei Community Forest.
“ Resonance worked with Green Advocates and USAID Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability (FIFES) to promote a new integrated landscape approach to community forestry,”adding that Community-level trainings and outreach activities built knowledge and understanding at the local level of pertinent forest and land laws, while the use of USAID MAST help consolidate and capture land information to inform beneficiaries of both the opportunities and constraints related to the use of their customary lands and forest resources.
Meanwhile, the group in a dispatch told reporters that its successful efforts have promoted a re-think of community forestry programming in Liberia, noting “this successful pilot program has directly engaged communities in order to achieve multi-functional objectives of protecting biodiversity and stimulating social and economic development in the Blei Community Forest and wider landscape.
However, FIFES did not respond to reporters’ inquiries on the project.