Liberia: Land Policy and Institutional Support

Completed Project
Project Countries: Liberia
Project Duration: 2010 to 2013
Approximate Funding: $6,400,000

The Land Policy and Institutional Support (LPIS) Project, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), collaborated with the Liberian Land Commission, the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME) and the Center for National Document and Records Agency (CNDRA) to improve the policy and legal frameworks for land management and thereby increase security of tenure, investment in land, and land market activity.

LPIS provided recommendations for addressing sources of tenure insecurity faced by rural communities in Liberia based on land and natural resource tenure field research. The Land Commission incorporated those recommendations into drafting a land rights policy that recognized customary tenure, and stipulated that the tenure category has the same rights as private tenure and should be protected accordingly. The draft policy paper was a result of lengthy deliberations of a Real Property Task Force, one of many task forces within the Land Commission. USAID and MCC  supported other task forces, land conflict resolution, land use and management, and land administration, through technical assistance.

LPIS collaborated with the Department of Lands, Surveys and Cartography within MLME, as well as the Survey Licensing and Registration Board and the Cartographic and Surveyors Association of Liberia. This collaboration worked to improve the survey infrastructure through the acquisition and subsequent training in the use of modern survey equipment, as well as reviews of existing spatial data and development of geodetic control standards.

LPIS conducted a thorough baseline study of existing processes within CNDRA, followed by developing numerous recommendations for modernizing the institution. CNDRA has undergone ambitious reform, highlighted by the opening of the Customer Service Center. LPIS supported the physical reconstruction of the center as well as the provision of hardware and software to digitize and register land deeds. The center allowed CNDRA staff to quickly scan land deeds and accompanying maps, and return the original documents to the landowners. In the two months following the opening of the Customer Service Center, over 400 transactions took place, of which 76 were deeds, and 10 enquiries.

LPIS sought to 1) increase clarity and public understanding of property rights issues in order to inform reforms of land policies and laws; 2) rebuild management and public and private surveying capacity to improve future land administration, and 3) increase efficiency in deed registration, restore and improve deed records and procedures.

Objectives

  • Provide information needed for reforms in land policy and law to promote equitable access to land and increased land tenure security.
  • Rebuild technical capacity in land administration and surveying in the Department of Land, Surveys and Cartography (DLSC) of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME), and the private sector.
  • Rehabilitate the Deed Registry system within the Center for National Documents and Records/Archives (CNDRA), including minor physical repairs, provision of office equipment, and funding for the preservation and digitization of records of land rights.

Outcomes

  • Enrolled six Liberian youth in a scholarship program to obtain a Master’s degree in Land Administration/Surveying. After completing their degree in 2013, the students developed a university curriculum and worked with the government to rebuild services and capacity.
  • Completed a pilot project in Lofa County’s Zorzor District and Maryland County’s Pleebo District to inventory tribal certificates.
  • Rehabilitated the CNDRA customer service center; the facility opened in August 2012.