Extractive Industry and Human Rights
The Extractive Industry and Human Rights programs aims to empower program staff and communities affected by logging, large scale Agricultural Plantation (Land Grabbing) and other natural resources extraction to actively participate in the management processes of these resources to ensure accountability, transparency, environmental protection, and benefits sharing from revenues generated from such endeavors. The program also works with communities to ensure that benefits received from concessionaries are managed properly to promote community cohesion and development.
Currently, there are five projects running under this program in six (6) counties of Liberia. They include three (3) Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and three (3) large scale Agricultural Plantation projects. The SFM projects are being implemented in Grand Gedeh, River Gee, and Grand Bassa Counties. The primary targets groups are five (5) community forestry development committees (CFDCs) and two (2) community based organizations which represents affected communities interests with logging concessionaires and Liberian Government. The CFDCs and CBOs also create awareness on forest policies, monitor, document, and report on illegalities committed by concessionaires.
The 3 Large Scale Agricultural Plantation projects are being implemented in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, River Cess and Sinoe Counties. These projects have produced community friendly versions of the various concession agreements and training in advocacy and negotiation skills, and technical support to over 30 rural communities affected by Sime Darby, Golden Veroleum, and Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) that own 220, 000 ha, 260, 000 ha, and 34, 398 ha respectively.
Land Rights, Forest and oil Palm in Liberia
While the government of Liberia sees oil palm plantation establishment as a blessing, many Liberians have seen it as a curse and have mobilized to resist the expansion.
In 2010 the government of Liberia signed a 260,000 hectare palm oil concession with Golden Petroleum Liberia, with virtually no consultation with the communities they will affect. These concessions overlap with other concessions, cover natural tropical forest and has directly affected thousands of Liberia's poorest of the poor.
Many communities are already being affected and more to be affected by palm oil plantaion.Most community members do not have either the information or the organizational capacity to understand these impacts or negotiate with GVL as to whether the company can operate on their lands, It is important that communities have a thorough understanding of what is contained within agreements between themselves and the company-memoranda of understanding- and are able to hold the company to account to ensure it meets its obligations and provides the community benefits under the terms of the MOU. It is also important to with communities engaged MOU negotiations to ensure that they fully understand what is contained and are in the position to make an informed decision on whether or not to sign based on their long-term interest. Finally, the need for communities to know about environmental and social impacts of concessions is paramount.
With funding from Global witness under the program; Sustainable and accountable land use and forest management (SAFM) Programme SAMFU has been working with ten affected communities in Sinoe County where Golden veroluem Liberia has cleared thousands of hectares of farm land for the establishment of oil palm plantation.
This project seeks to build the capacity of these individuals to enable them to negotiate with the company on their rights and benefits. The project seeks to achieve the following results/Outputs.
Affected community understanding of MOU terms and implementation- Communities that have recently signed MOUs with GVL will have a better understanding of the terms and their rights to hold the company to account in implementing the terms of the MOU.
Communities can make informed decision on signing MOUs- Communities that are currently in the process of negotiating MOUs will be able to make an informed decision as to signing the MOU, taking into account the long terms benefits or disadvantages of doing so.
Communities aware of environmental and social impacts of the concession- The Community in Sinoe will engage in group workshops to discuss the likely environmental and social impacts of the palm oil concession and how it will affect them.
Supporting community advocacy for transparent management of natural resources and development funds in Grand Bassa County with support from Trust Africa., aims at promoting communities' rights to natural resources in Grand Bassa County and helps empower local communities (4 CBOs and 2 Community Forestry Development Committees) with relevant information, logistical and technical support to advocate for community rights to and benefits from natural resources extraction in Grand Bassa County.