President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf opened the first National Urban Conference in Liberia to kick-start the process of developing an urban land policy.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with UN-HABITAT official
The Conference, which took place from 6 - 8 October 2010, was organized by the Liberian Land Commission, in partnership with UN-HABITAT. It was attended by 150 participants representing a wide range of stakeholders including traditional leaders, Mayors, County Superintendents, Ministries, civil society organizations, the private sector, universities, donors and other partners.
“The Land Commission needs to address some long standing issues in the country… it needs to look into squatters rights and squatters lack of rights… and come out with a clear resolution that we can use as guide in resolving land issues in the country”, the President said.
The Land Commission, established in 2009 with the mandate to formulate, propose and advocate for reforms in the land sector in Liberia, called upon urban sector stakeholders to jointly identify urban land priorities and develop an agenda to address these priorities.
A wide range of issues were discussed ranging from urbanization and urban land management to security of tenure in urban areas and access for the poor, decentralization of land management, land conflicts and public private partnerships.
The conference concluded with recommendations for strengthening urban land management in Liberia. Priorities highlighted included the need for a national urban land policy with specific instruments for slum up-grading and prevention, preparation of strategic urban plans, and urgent review of urban laws and institutional arrangements. These recommendations will help the Land Commission to prioritize and plan reforms.
UN-HABITAT has been supporting peace-building efforts in Liberia since the end of the conflict in 2003. The agency has supported the Land Commission since its establishment in August 2009 through technical advice, policy development, and capacity building. UN-HABITAT is also providing local government capacity-building at the county level.