UK Based-Liberian Launches Research on ‘Land Grabbing’ In Liberia

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 By:  Ida Reeves- Contributor

Monserrado: A Liberian PhD student based in the UK has stressed the need for Concession Companies’ agreements to be more strategic in terms of job distribution in affected communities.

Fidel Buby who is currently in Liberia to launch his research on ‘Land Grabbing’ by Concession Companies indicated that promises usually made by concession companies were not being fulfilled and the number of jobs created were not adequate to absorb those who had been displaced from their land while People were being underpaid for the job they do.

Fidel Buby spoke recently at a local hotel in Monrovia during the launch of this research work which focuses on the impact of land grabbing in Liberia including his personal interest and desire to understand the impact land has on rural spaces and to contribute new knowledge land grabbing in Liberia.

“When concession companies coming to the country they tell residents in operating communities that they will create jobs but the jobs are not sufficient for the land they occupied and the recourses they take from our country”, Buby stated.

The PhD UK-based Liberian student added that people in other communities where concessions are operating are complaining of other communities benefiting more jobs and benefits than other communities at the same time noticing that most of their employees are taken from particular towns.

He added that prices of basic commodities are so high in concession operating communities thus creating hardship for residents.

“Potatoes greens, bitter ball, rice are not easily found in concession areas due to the unavailability of adequate farmland for residents and all the nearby lands that used to require at least two to three hours walk to a farm have been grabbed by concession companies, most of the residents are now hired to work for companies, nobody highly makes farm, almost all the food comes from in town” Buby noted.

Bubby stated that Concession presence in communities must ensure the rapid growth of the community both economically and socially to enable community members to benefit adequately. “Because of Sime Darby in Bomi County citizens now have banks in that part of the country creating more jobs for our people”.

The major impact of Buby’s research work is the nuanced understandings that it provides in terms of how rural residents in Senjeh District have been affected and their reaction to the land deals.

The research findings will be disseminated to policymakers to be incorporated into their thinking when designing new land administration and implementing new policies.

“These findings challenge some of the available narratives on the impact of land grabbing on rural people”.
He observed during the research in communities affected by Concessions, there were missteps in regards to the land acquisition owing to proper consultation of relevant community stakeholders’, “For example, in other countries it is suggested that only the elders were consulted prior to the beginning of the land deals but I found out that in Senjeh everyone was consulted including women” he noted

He wants companies to be more strategic in the distribution of jobs and benefits that will empower communities and change the living condition of people in operating concessions areas.

Buby is expected to complete his PhD studies in Land Rights early next year from the Aberystwyth University.
The UK based Liberian PHD student concerns are in line with the newly passed Land Rights act of 2018 which promotes the rights of customary land ownership in relation to affected concession communities with huge impact including benefits.

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