The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the REDD+Implementation (RIU) have concluded week-long workshops in Ganta, Nimba County and Tubmanburg, Bomi County respectively, thereby training at least 1,415 participants from some of the clusters (forest dependent communities) across the country. They were trained intensively in forest conflict resolution, an FDA release said.
The workshop, under the theme, “The Feedback Grievance Redress Mechanisms (FGRM),” aimed at creating the platforms to fundamentally address land use and or forest related possible conflicts that may arise in the communities to avoid some of the unnecessary court litigation in the project landscapes where the REDD+program is being implemented by the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LSFP).
It can be recalled that earlier this year, stakeholders in the Liberian forest sector, under the Liberian Forest Sector Project, formally launched the FGRM framework in Montserrado and Bong counties as an achievable working tool in addressing common grievances in the forest dependent communities.
Primarily, the FGRM plays a gate keeping role to quickly hear and address land use or forest related conflicts so as to narrow court litigations. Considered as a cheaper, yet greater means to resolve forest related community matters, the FGRM equation is fulfilled by the Grievance Redress Council (GRC), a body consisted of reliable and credible members drawn from the communities.
Sponsored by the Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, through the REDD+, the FDA and World Bank, the capacity building forum sharpened the skills and equipped the GRC members to handle cases impartially, and conscientiously to ensure that peace and harmony remain ignited between and amongst the community members at all times.
They learned how the GRC members were taught on hearing of grievances, where and by whom, classifications of grievances expected to be handled, the steps and procedures involved in handling conflicts; how to engage communities, and the creation of feedback loop, roles and responsibilities of the GRC in handling cases.
Cllr. Negbalee Warner provided broad legal standpoint on the FGRM. The World Bank hired him as the legal consultant to drive the process. He emphasized the importance of the FGRM as the best, which he said will basically promote peace and harmony in the communities, thereby narrowing the tendencies of pursuing cases through the courts to avoid waste of time and money.
Warner said as internationally recommended practice, more especially as a World Bank Safeguards, the FGRM system, in addition to being the protective custody of peace and harmony amongst community dwellers, it essentially attracts donors’ attention for possible support in favor of people, who adopt and practice it as a way of life to promote REDD+ Programs.
The FGRM serves as conduit whereby conflict resolution is forged through traditional means that encourages settlement of grievances outside (out of court) aimed at upholding peaceful coexistence, while keeping the torch of love and unity burning at all times in the communities.
One busy advantage of the FGRM is the accessibility of the GRC members whereby grievances that may arise are quickly heard, feedback immediately provided and redress actions established geared at sustaining the culture of traditional handling of cases locally void of court actions.
Nick B. Goll, Environmental Coordinator at the Liberian Forest Sector Project (LFSP), underscored the importance of the workshops as it relates to the task of the Grievance Redress Committee members, which Goll said remains vital as far as the projected peace-building network under the LFSP is concerned.
He challenged the participants to take the workshop seriously as it is a platform to reduce unnecessary court matters and foster peace and harmony in their respective areas as far as the intended purpose is concerned.
The GRC, Mr. Goll said is the bedrock as far as the FGRM framework is concerned and challenged them to fairly and impartially execute and play the leading role.
He called for a concerted efforts and keenness on the part of the participants given the overall dream of the workshop, which he said aimed at sharpening their understanding and skills in settling grievances peace in their respective communities, especially the protected areas.
Moses B. Jaygbah Jr., the Social Safeguard Specialist for the LFSP, elaborated on the roles and responsibilities of the GRC, and told the GRC members to consider themselves as which is essentially charged with the responsible pillars and drivers of the FGRM system framework developed for the LFSP to its fruition.
He called on the participants to develop the spirit of working assiduously in the interest of the project project, and promised subsequent focus.
Mr. Jaygbah encouraged them to be the expected desired champions of the FGRM framework, and as such, they should consider the GRC members are cardinal to the process, and urged them to invest their commitment in ensuring that the FGRM is perfected to benefit of the larger society.
He extended thanks and appreciation to the Norwegian Government through the World Bank for supporting the process that led to of the establishment of the FGRM as a major safeguard instrument to support communities.