FAO Gambia: The Gambia Validates Lands and Natural Resources Policy Document
The Ministry of Lands & Regional Government in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held a one day workshop to validate the Legislative Gaps Assessment supported by FAO through the UN Peace building Fund supported project titled “Addressing Conflict Over Land and Natural Resources in The Gambia.
This project seeks to strengthen the Government’s efforts in formulating legal frameworks for land and natural resources (LNR) and its frequently related conflict resolution, governance so as to enhance mechanisms for conflict prevention in communities where LNR conflict-related violence has already occurred as well as support actions for peace building.
A Gaps Assessment was carried out to review existing legislation and policy documents on instruments relevant to the area of Lands and Natural Resource management in the country.
Delivering his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Governments and Lands, Mr. Buba Sanyang said the purpose of the validation workshop was to address the major challenges in land governance tenure, forestry and other natural resources governance in the Gambia which include inadequate laws governing land and natural resources and poor enforcement of existing legal frameworks, different normative legal instruments such as common, sharia and customary laws as well as limitations of land administration institutions.
According to him, the project further aims to strengthen the governance of land and other natural resources and its related conflict resolution mechanisms. He reminded validators about the terms of reference as they were meant to collect all policy, legislative and legal frameworks in the area of land governance, conduct critical analysis and review of the national policy and all the legislative frameworks including the common law, sharia and customary laws of the land, to assess the legal and institutional setup for the resolution of dispute emanating from land and other natural resources as well as to engage the stakeholders in this area like the Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Justice, Department of Lands and Surveys, Department of Physical Planning and all other relevant partners to identify gaps to match it with international standards and best practices regarding land tenure, forest and fisheries that is geared towards the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and children.
For the Assistant FAO Representative and Head of Programs in the Gambia Dr. Mustapha Ceesay explained that, the project was funded by the UN Peace Building Initiative as it supports conflict resolutions over land and natural resources to mitigate alarming crimes experience as people have different uses of natural resources saying disagreements arises if interest and usage differs and conflicts over land are sharply rising around the world whilst emphasizing that the Gambia is not an exception in such crises, adding already the UN has invested over 800 million dollars in this area globally.
“Conflict prevention is more cost effective, therefore it is worth investing in.” the FAO official added.
He stated that, this project of the Gambia government is in line with the national NDP document and other international development targets like the Sustainable Development (Goals SDGs) and that warranted for the UN Peace building fund to finance the Gaps Assessment project of the Ministry of Local Governments and Lands.
“This is to foster the UN initiative of peace building and as well as the supporting of the national development agendas of the Gambia government.”
Representing the CSOs community in the Gambia at the validation workshop, the Director of TANGO Mr. Ousman Yabo said that, as CSO network, they are the first beneficiaries of this policy document because Civil Society is directly dealing with grassroots challenges with affected communities on a daily basis saying validators need to thoroughly scrutinize the document as he called for further in-depth community consultations on this land and natural resources policy paper.
He added that, tabling such policy paper is timely describing the severity of land and natural resources issues as a time-bomb that needs to be address as soon as possible to avoid an all-out conflict over land in the country.
According to the facilitator of the validation exercise, Dr. Feyi Ogunade, the Gambia is leading in many human rights instruments compared to many other African nations saying Africans know the problems of land and natural resources but they failed to educate themselves about it to trigger constrictive conversations around it.
As he dilated on the importance of the validation workshop, and he called on participants to tediously go through the document in order to make the necessary adjustments on the document.
The report of the National Legal Constitution on the Assessment of the Adequacy of Legal and Policy Frameworks for Effective Land Tenure Governance and Dispute Resolution Mechanism in the Gambia was carried out by Shiekh Tijan Hydara as the international consultant of the project.