Land Governance Support Activity (LGSA) Quarterly Report: October – December 2015

The Land Governance Support Activity (LGSA) Task Order under the Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights (STARR) Indefinite Quantity Contract. LGSA supports the establishment of more effective land governance systems, ready to implement comprehensive reforms to improve equitable access to land and security of tenure, so as to facilitate inclusive sustained growth and development, ensure peace and security, and provide sustainable management of the environment. Tetra Tech and partners Landesa, World Resources Institute (WRI), Namati, Collaborative Decision Resources Associates (CDR), Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), and Parley form a collaborative team providing technical and organizational assistance to the Government of Liberia (GOL), civil society, and communities in their land rights reform process.

Within 30 days of contract award, a two day work planning and partnering meeting was held in Monrovia, Liberia to review project objectives, clarify roles and relationships to meet project goals and to focus on the development of partnering relationships to ensure successful project implementation. During the second day of meetings, the LGSA team met to discuss finalization of the work plan, focusing on Year 1 activities, but also looking ahead to Year 2 and subsequent years’ activities. An inception plan including both the year one work plan and the Monitoring and Evaluation plan was prepared and submitted to USAID for approval.

Throughout the Year 1 work plan, LGSA makes the assumption that the Land Rights Bill and Land Authority Bill would be passed in a timely fashion. Nonetheless a risk analysis and mitigation measures were prepared to highlight possible project implementation constraints.

LGSA embedded the COP within the LC/LA where he spends half of his time providing day-to-day advice and mentorship on direction of the legal framework and general technical assistance. The COP worked with the Land Commission to prepare submissions and to review the content of the discussion on two pieces of legislation (the Land Rights Bill and the Land Authority Bill) currently under consideration by the Legislature. Various other technical specialists from LGSA are partially embedded within the LC/LA.

In December LGSA Consultant John Bruce reviewed the regulatory framework for future work in this area focusing on updating his 2010 study on land reform, completing a review of the processes undertaken by the Land Commission in the development of the current draft legislation, providing an analysis of the status of legal and regulatory review process, suggesting a prioritization of laws and regulatory reforms needed in the future, and identifying possible constraints to this process.

Also in December of 2015, the LGSA in coordination with the Land Commission began the first of a series of public awareness campaigns designed to provide information to the public on the proposed Land Rights Bill and Land Authority Bill. This is discussed at length under Component 4 activities below.

In December, LGSA’s organizational development specialists, Ivan Ford (Land Governance Advisor) and Archie Bawo (Land Administration Specialist) began work on the Institutional Reform process. This included a review of recent policies, laws and regulations; development of an institutional map of land governance institutions in Liberia at the national, county, and community levels; a review of the World Bank’s draft Assessment of Land Sector Training Needs and Training Plan; consultation with government entities on a transition plan; meetings with legal experts and civil society for input; and began preparation for organizational audits to occur in early 2016.

Namati is currently reviewing literature and project implementation experience in community land rights to inform the process for the development of an action research agenda. Namati has also begun work on the creation of a Civil Society Organizations (CSO)/Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) inventory to determine who has been working on land issues at the national, county, and sub-county levels. It is expected that some of these organizations will be able to assist in the community self-identification and mapping exercise in the 45 pilot communities.

In the first quarter, the LGSA team undertook a preliminary publicity campaign to increase public information about the Land Rights Bill and Land Authority Bill and the progress towards getting the legislation passed, giving citizens and community members talking points to meet and discuss with their national and community leaders, and engaging local media institutions to encourage the dissemination of land governance-related information into the public domain.

Administratively, all senior and administrative project staff have been hired. Two technical staff positions remain unfilled (Grants and Subcontracts Specialist and the Community Engagement Specialist (which will be under Namati)). Office space and housing have been secured for COP and DCOP. Financial management and procurement procedures have been established and are functioning. Personnel, vehicle, and security handbooks have been finalized.