Urban Land Inventory exercise gets underway in Ganta City, Nimba County

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Partial view of participants that attended the Ganta_web.jpg

The launch of the Urban Land Inventory (ULI) Project took place at the United Methodist Gymnasium in Ganta City, Nimba County on Saturday, March 14, 2015 and brought together high profile personalities from Nimba County, stakeholders in the land sector, including representatives from the Swedish Embassy, UN-Habitat, UNMIL, as well as a cross-section of community residents.

The Urban Land Inventory project is an initiative of the Land Commission to safeguard the arrangement and development of cities across the Country to meet international standards as well as identifying needs for basic social services and infrastructure development.

The Urban Land Inventory exercise, formally commenced in Ganta City, Nimba County after two successive pilots, in Gbarnga, Bong County and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, respectively.

The results of the first urban land 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, while the second pilot implemented in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County was recently validated by relevant stakeholders and residents of Buchanan City.

During the launch of the ULI project in Ganta City, Nimba County, the Director of the Technical Secretariat of the Land Commission, Mr. McArthur Pay-Bayee, who proxied for the Chairman of the Land Commission, Dr. Cecil O. T. Brandy, said that when the inventory exercise is completed, it will point out the areas that need quick impact development in Ganta City and help the City Authority to plan the city better. 

According to Mr. Pay-Bayee, this exercise will add value to properties in the city limit. Mr. Pay-Bayee also maintained that the exercise will also help the Land Commission to develop policy that will guide the usage of land in the urban sector.

He further informed the gathering that data collected from the pilots in Gbarnga, Bong County and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County presented significant reasons to continue the exercise.  The exercise captured specific information on structures, features, as well as basic social services; it also pointed development concentrated environments and the ones lagging behind.

In closing, Mr. Pay-Bayee lauded the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and UN-HABITAT, including other donors for their continuous support to the Land Commission which has translated into achieving major deliverables for the Commission, including the highly hailed Land Rights Policy.

Also speaking, UN–HABITAT’s Head of Office, Mr. Antony Lamba, identified what he called “one common phenomenon” in Africa, which is land use and management. Mr. Lamba said, if this is a problem then it needs to be addressed by Africans themselves.

Mr. Lamba recalled that his home country, Kenya, has the worst land problem than Liberia, and according to him, the country is systematically dealing with the situation, and therefore every country, including Liberia needs to find solution to problems they are encountering with land.  He continued that the land saga in Africa varies from one county to another, and emphasized that information generated from the exercise will be used to deal with situations in various communities according to their nature, – whether it will require for police intervention, fire service or medical service and or for city development planning.

He said the information will also be useful for community residents to identify what is their immediate basic need.

Mr. Lamba said UN – HABITAT is in Liberia to help Government alleviate the many problems that engulfed the country’s land sector. He said, UN – HABITAT is providing technical support to the Land Commission in the areas of land use and management, housing and urban planning.

He made it clear that UN – HABITAT is not a direct implementing agency, but gives support to partners like Land Commission who implement projects identified and funded by donors.

Making remarks on the purpose of the Urban Land Inventory Project, the Commissioner with oversight responsibility on Education and Outreach, Hon. Susana G. Vaye, said Ganta City was selected for this exercise because of its diverse economic activities and population growth.

Hon. Vaye assured the residents that the exercise is expected to accrue enormous benefits, citing the easy identification of structures and facilities as well as needed information to help the city authorities plan the city in a way it will develop according to set standards.

Hon. Vaye made it clear, that the challenges and needs of development does not rest on the shoulders of Government alone, but the citizens should also play a pivotal role in developing their respective environments, with Ganta  no exception.

Commissioner Vaye also praised the County authorities of Nimba. She observed that the launch of the urban land inventory project in Ganta was the first for members of the Legislature to attend, compared to the Gbarnga and Buchanan official lunching ceremonies.

She also commended the Education and Outreach Teams at the Land Commission and the Land Coordination Center in Ganta for their tireless efforts in making the launching program a success. She acknowledged that Education and Outreach is vital because the success of any activity depends on the level of awareness that will be carried out.

Hon. Suzana G. Vaye recounted some gains the Land Commission has made since its establishment, and furthered that the Land Commission was mandated through an Act of the National Legislature to reform the land sector by developing policies, laws and programs related to land.

She named the Land Rights Policy, the Interim Guidelines and Procedures for the Sale of Public Land, the Act Against Criminal Conveyance of Land, and the {draft} Land Rights Act currently before the National Legislature as some significant gains the Commission has made so far.

She also mentioned the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism as another avenue for citizens to settle their land disputes peacefully without going through the court process.

At in his opening remarks, the proxy for the Superintendent of Nimba County, Mr. Moham Kromah, acknowledged that the development shift of Nimba County is the collective effort and cooperation received from the citizens as well as stakeholders.

Mr. Kromah asserted that such cooperation should not only be acknowledged by authorities of the County, but should be extended to any institution that wants to advance the development capacity of the county.

He referred to the Urban Land Inventory exercise as an opportunity to improve the planning of cities in Nimba County.

Mr. Kromah also added his voice to call on all citizens of Nimba especially those in Ganta to cooperate with the exercise to achieve its intended goal.

For his part, the the Mayor of Ganta City, Hon. Benjamin Dokpa welcomed all stakeholders that attended the program to the City of Ganta as he presented Nimba as a county of hospitality and Ganta as a City of light.

Hon. Dokpa said the inventory will benefit Ganta City as the City Council is contemplating on planning the City from an advance perspective so as to give such standardized status to the City of Ganta.

Hon Dokpa then called on all community leaders and stakeholders to cooperate with the exercise.

The Land Commission with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and UNHABITAT organized the launch of the urban land inventory exercise following a two-day consultative meeting with over three hundred (300) participants from the twenty – eight (28) Communities identified in Ganta for the project.

The exercise will be conducted by ten Liberian experts who specialized in Geographic Information System (GIS) data processing and is headed by Mr. P. Albert Gebeh .

 When the exercise is completed, the inventory will provide data on types of land use and percentages of total land in Ganta City and will also locate agriculture, industrial, commercial, residential areas and special features such as military base and the prison and identify streets and major road networks and other points within Ganta City. 

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