For fostering Peace and Social Cohesion in Pujehun and Moyamba districts, communities score the Government of Sierra Leone, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Food Programme (WFP) over 80% in the Multi-Stakeholder Project supported by the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF).
Residents (youth, women, chiefs and other district and chiefdom authorities) of Malen and Makpele chiefdoms of Pujehun District and of Lower Banta and Upper Banta Chiefdoms in Moyamba district recently rated the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), UNDP and WFP Multi Stakeholder Platform (MSP) Project “over 80% successful” as a resource based and local conflict resolution mechanism that promotes peace and social cohesion. This finding was revealed by district stakeholders during a two-day spot-check visit to the project chiefdoms led by UNDP’s Resident Representative-Dr. Samuel Doe, where his team engaged with community members, local and traditional leaders of the areas to learn about the outcomes of the project.
“It’s almost one year now, we have not witnessed road blockades or any act of violence in the Pujehun District emanating from land related disputes or dissatisfied youth groups or a community member. We are grateful to UNDP and WFP and the Government of Sierra Leone.” -says Jitta Kanneh, Mammy Queen of Makpele Chiefdom.
Some achievements of the project include the following:
Helping to ensure land acquisition and land use processes are more inclusive and aligned with policy frameworks. A Land Degradation Assessment completed by the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI) across the targeted chiefdoms and districts indicates significant forest degradation informed by indigenous perceptions in the four chiefdoms and backed by empirical evidence obtained from Landsat imagery analysed at 2000 and 2020. Forest loss is mainly attributed to the combined influence of local activities (subsistence farming, lumbering, and charcoal production); mining (in the case of Lower and Upper Banta); and expansions in oil palm plantations (more intense in Malen than in Mapkele). Indigenous perceptions suggest that the land tenure systems are highly monopolized by local authorities and compensations or surface rents are grossly inadequate to provide sustainable and alternative livelihoods after land dispossession. The attendant surplus labour, poverty and food insecurity have been major triggers of dissatisfaction and conflict in these communities. Moreover, Chemical analysis of water samples proved that water bodies in mining localities are more polluted than those in non-mining communities. Results from Malen showed that soil and water samples had higher pollutants than those in Makpele.
Supporting the establishment of effective stakeholder engagement and dialogue mechanism (landowners, local authorities, women and youths) in land tenure and in land deal negotiations, and sensitization on company operations. Employment opportunities for indigenes and the delivery of corporate social responsibilities are perceived by the communities as grossly inadequate in view of their expectations. Labour intensive and menial jobs are open to indigenes due, in part, to their lack of qualification for technical and administrative jobs that attract better salaries. Communities in operational areas of mining and agricultural companies complained of serious challenges in accessing social amenities like healthcare, education, and safe drinking water.
The project has implemented Multi-Stakeholders Platform (MSP) meetings in the two districts informed by feedback from the subcommittee set up by the MSP to follow up on challenges of target communities. Community grievance redress meetings and dialogues keep going on in the two districts.
The project also incorporates the livelihoods support approach for sustaining peace. Therefore, climate-smart agricultural practices are being maximized with high yielding rice cultivation taking place in 31 inland valley swamps managed by 31 Farmer Groups comprising of 588 females and 1,269 males who have also benefited from trainings in climate-smart agricultural practices, rice seeds, cash for work and farming tools all provided by the Peacebuilding Fund. This livelihood support is also giving assurance to food security whilst supplementing the districts’ popular root crops such as cassava and sweet potato.