Liberia’s land tenure system was for many years pluralistic, based on statutory and customary laws. In historical practice, land held under customary regimes has long been considered “public land.” The Government of Liberia granted concessions to vast tracks of this public land to create national parks and reserves, forcing the displacement of many communities and erasing sources of food, livelihood, and cultural heritage.
In 2018, Liberia adopted the Land Rights Act (LRA)—with key provisions to safeguard women’s and youth’s rights within communities, the LRA is widely considered to be one of the most progressive land rights reforms on the African continent. Under the new law, the 2-3 million Liberians who live in rural areas can now formally register their land as their own. These years following adoption of the LRA mark a critical juncture; the Government of Liberia must implement the law effectively to promote peace, stability, and sustainable development.
Landesa has supported this landmark legislation, conducted integral research, and facilitated essential education alongside community partners in Liberia. With engagement dating back to 2010 and an established office in Monrovia since 2018, Landesa has maintained close partnerships with a range of government and civil society partners.
Current Initiatives in Liberia
Land Rights for Sustainable Development II Project
Following Liberia’s passage of a progressive land rights law in 2018 that recognizes and protects the land rights of 2-3 million rural Liberians, Landesa is supporting effective implementation to promote peace, stability, and sustainable economic development to benefit all Liberians. Specifically, Landesa is supporting community land formalization, offering ongoing technical assistance for law and policy reform, strengthening government and community implementation capacity, fostering legal awareness in civil society using radio and Amplio Talking Books, and building an evidence base to disseminate lessons to broader stakeholders. Partners: Liberia Land Authority, Amplio, and Development Education Network-Liberia (January 2022 – December 2023).
Watch: Talking Books – Spreading the Word about Land Rights in Liberia (YouTube)
Selected Past Projects
LEVERAGE Activity, Amplio Talking Books
As part of USAID’s Land Evidence for Economic Rights, Gender and Empowerment (LEVERAGE) activity under the Communications, Evidence and Learning (CEL) project, Landesa partnered with Amplio to provide community-level education on women’s land rights. Landesa distributed Amplio Talking Books, simple hand-held audio players with messages in local languages, to women-headed households, ethnic minorities, women’s groups, and youth groups to build awareness of rights enshrined in the 2018 Land Rights Law and increase women’s participation in land governance. Partners: USAID and Amplio (June 2021 – June 2022).
Land Rights for Sustainable Development Project
Landesa promoted game-changing sustainable and equitable land-based development for all rural Liberians, including women and youth. The project supported the development of responsive land laws and policies, strengthened government and civil society capacity to implement land rights reforms, raised national and community-level awareness of land rights, and built evidence for land rights reforms through research, monitoring, and evaluation. Partners: Liberia Land Authority, Development Education Network-Liberia, and Foundation for Community Initiatives (January 2018 – December 2020).
USAID Liberia Land Governance Support Activity
Landesa supported the Government of Liberia in strengthening its institutional, policy, legal and regulatory framework for gender equitable land governance. Partners: TetraTech and USAID (September 2015 to June 2020).
USAID Support to Develop Women’s Land Rights Task Force
Landesa oversaw the establishment of a Women’s Land Rights Task force, co-chaired by the Ministry of Gender and Development and the Land Commission. The Task Force has provided critical inputs to the land policy process, ensuring that land administration regulations, rules, and procedures are consistent with statutory protections for women’s property rights, and working to ensure women in rural areas have a voice in the policy process. Partners: TetraTech/ARD and USAID (September 2012 to December 2013).
USAID Land Policy and Institutional Support (LPIS) Project
Landesa led a nationwide study, designed in collaboration with the National Land Commission, to identify means to recognize customary land rights and to improve the tenure security of rural communities. Findings from the study informed the National Land Commission’s design of a land policy. Landesa also led an assessment of the land rights of women and girls in Liberia and made recommendations to the Land Commission and other decision-makers for approaches to protect and strengthen women’s land tenure security. Partners: TetraTech/ARD and USAID (November 2010 to February 2012)