At least 16 enumerators have been trained to carry out data collection in four concession areas in Grand Cape Mount, Nimba, Maryland and Sinoe counties.
The training was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and was recently held in Suakoko, Bong County.
The enumerators are now being deployed to collect data that will be used by stakeholders as a driver to resolve conflicts in the four concession counties.
It can be recalled that FAO, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in January 2017, signed the “Strengthening National Reconciliation through improved understanding of Conflict Drivers in Concession Areas and Establishment of Stakeholder Platforms” project.
In this project, the FAO is responsible for conducting a study on the impact of concession operations on the traditional use of forest resources.
The objective of the study, according to the FAO facilitator, is to identify the main drivers of conflicts in concessions, especially in communities that are natural-resource-reliant.
The study also seeks to improve understanding of the impact of concessions on the livelihoods of local communities, to establish four collaborative dialogue platforms in four concession areas, and to strengthen the institutional capacity of the National Bureau of Concession.
It may be recalled that the targeted concession areas such as Sime Darby, Cavalla Rubber Plantation, ArcelorMittal and Golden Veroleum in Grand Cape Mount, Maryland, Nimba and Sinoe counties respectively, have recorded violent demonstrations and roadblocks which degenerated into vandalizing the companies’ facilities.
In his closing remarks at the close of a week-long training session, FAO’s Administrative and Finance Assistant Amadu Dorley explained that the result of the survey would help stakeholders make informed decisions to improve collaboration between the communities and the concession companies.
He also encouraged participants to take advantage of the exercise to improve their skills for future ventures.
“This survey is important for the improvement of the livelihoods of communities. This study will allow the National Bureau of Concession to negotiate concession agreements that would benefit both the communities and the concessionaires,” Dorley added.
Shadrach Yancy, a participant, lauded the effort of FAO and partners for such a rewarding initiative.
“I am confident that the survey report will improve the relationship between our people and the companies,” he said.
Yancy said most of the communities in the aforementioned concession areas have recorded violence in the past, adding: “Bringing such a project will lead to some level of dialogue that will sustain peace within the areas.”
He called on the government of Liberia to “join hands with FAO and partners to spread this initiative across other communities within concession areas who have experienced similar situations.”