It was quite an astonishing occasion to participants who attended a one-day validation workshop at the Fair Ground in Buchanan on Wednesday February 18, 2015, when young Liberian professionals unveiled the preliminary data of an urban land inventory exercise, which covered the City of Buchanan and parts of Harlandsville community.
The Land Commission with support from the Swedish Government through the UNHABITAT organized the one-day urban land inventory validation workshop with county authorities, zonal heads and selected stakeholders in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
The validation workshop is the final stage of a four-month Buchanan Urban Land Inventory Project, initiated by the Land Commission with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and technical assistance from UN-HABITAT.
The inventory provided data on types of land uses as percentages of total land in the City of Buchanan, and included uses for agriculture, industrial, commercial, residential, and special features such as military base and the prison.
During the verification of data, the participants were requested to call the numbers that are assigned to their various structures, followed by the Geographic information syatem ( GIS ) specialists calling the name of the primary resident and the number of occupants, and later displaying the photographs of the physical structures.
Other information captured in the data includes availability of social services such as electricity, water supply and sanitation as well as infrastructures including water fronts, roads and bridges, among others.
Presenting the preliminary results of the land inventory exercise in Buchanan, Mr. Albert Gebeh, Project Coordinator, firstly introduced members of his team, who are all Liberians, and disclosed that Buchanan was selected as the second pilot city for the national urban land inventory project because of the population and diverse economic activities in Buchanan.
Mr. Gebeh revealed that a total of ten thousand, five hundred and eighty three (10,583) primary structures, excluding military barracks were enumerated; one hundred and eighty six (186) special features including military barracks were identified and one thousand, four hundred and ninety one (1,491) water points. Officially launched on April 25, 2014, the inventory exercise came to abrupt postponement due to the Ebola outbreak but resumed after its cessation in December 2014.
Mr. Gebeh further disclosed that of the twenty eight (28) communities enumerated, fourteen thousand, one hundred and seventeen (14,117) acres or five thousand, seven hundred and eleven hectares (5,711) were covered by the inventory team. The total estimated population of the pilot sites (Buchanan and Harlandsville) stands at seventy seven thousand, seven hundred and twenty one (77,721), according to the result.
The Chairman of the Land Commission, Dr. Cecil Brandy thanked the City Mayor, Mrs. Julia K. Bono Mellish, the Project Team, UN-HABITAT. and residents of Buchanan for overwhelmingly supporting the project to the end.
He said the Land Commission is an action-oriented entity that is producing optimum results, referencing a number of land policies and land laws that have been formulated and drafted by the Commission. These include but not limited to the Land Rights Policy and Land Rights Act, which recognize the ownership rights of communities to their customary lands, including natural resources on the land, as well as the Land Administration Policy, which will among others, improve the standards of the surveys to avoid conflicting claims over land.
Other cities in Liberia are growing without control and without plan and therefore, it is time for us to plan our cities better with the data that are coming out of these urban land inventory exercises, Dr. Brandy noted. He then encouraged all Liberians to develop a positive spirit to develop Liberia.
Buchanan City Mayor, Julia Bono Mellish thanked the project team for such an excellent job. She said the numbers ascribed to the houses can be used for postal services and tax collection purposes.
An official of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Ms. Lubna Lasu also commended the Land Commission and UN-HABITAT for conducting the inventory exercise, which will help the city government to engage in meaningful development programs and projects.
Mr. Antony Lamba, UN-HABITAT Head of Office in Liberia, said the Urban Inventory Project is very important to Liberia and will help Buchanan local authorities to plan the city better for the benefit of all residents.
“My greatest joy with this project is the level of training that I have imparted in young Liberians who are desirous to become specialists in GIS technology, and they will take ownership of the project as we move on to Ganta City for the next inventory exercise”, Mr. Lamba affirmed.
Five persons, selected from the Buchanan City Corporation (BCC) who assisted the project team in their work were certificated and twenty eight (28) zonal maps representing the structures were also presented to the Mayor of Buchanan City by the Chairman of the Land Commission, Dr. Brandy.
The Urban Land Inventory project is an initiative of the Land Commission geared towards collecting accurate, complete and up-to-date data, which is critical for urban land use planning.
The first urban inventory pilot project, implemented in Gbarnga, Bong County, was lauded by the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) and other stakeholders as a roadmap for the development of urban sectors in Liberia.