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Land degradation contributes to poverty in Liberia

An Assistant Professor from the University of Liberia, Jerome Nyenka, says land degradation and unsustainable management of forest and water resources contribute to poverty, which affects the most vulnerable, rural poor population whose livelihoods and incomes centre around those natural resources.

He notes that in Liberia, shifting cultivation, as undertaken by rural farmers, leads to deforestation, land degradation as well as soil nutrient loss, adding that the practice is on the increase to the extent that it is posing serious challenges to national and sector specific efforts to increase food productivity, tackle climate change and ensure sustainable forest and environmental management.

Presenting a paper Wednesday, 20 February on Legal and Institutional Environment at a one-day Validation Workshop held at Belle Casa Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia he stresses that ensuring sustainable land management in Liberia is paramount to achieving increased productivity, livelihood enhancement of rural poor and subsequent poverty reduction thereby, contributing to the achievement of Liberia’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development or PAPD.

Nyenka, Assistant Professor of Forest Economics, explains that this can be achieved through development of national and sector-specific legal and institutional environment to guide sustainable management of the land and natural resources.

He says the Government of Liberia has formulated several policies and strategies aimed at targeting economic growth, environmental protection and management, natural resource management, improvement of social welfare and peace building, adding that prominent amongst them are Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) covering the period 2008-2011, Agenda for Transformation (AfT) covering the period 2012-2017 and National Environmental Policy of 2003, etc.

According to him, analysis was carried out on sectoral laws and regulations relevant to Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in Liberia based on a review of key policies, strategies and laws and regulations governing land and related natural resources.

Nyenka continues that capacity constraints at systemic level in combating desertification or and degradation are essentially similar to those related to the management and sustainable use of biodiversity and climate change, and that these constraints are mainly associated with inadequate policy and legal framework, poor governance, inadequately structured economic framework; and ineffective national processes and relationships in sustainable development.

According to him, the issue of land degradation has claimed the attention of both public and private actors in Liberia, and several actions are being initiated; much of them are in areas of policies and strategies while there still exist limitations in on-site interventions; Data availability is still a challenge; Financial resources are far from reached.

He recommends a need to clarify roles of the Land Degradation Neutrality Technical Working Group and the national level disaster management program by putting in place minimum institutional capacity for generating needed data, including modalities for initial financing especially, from internal sources, while operationalizing the National Coordinating Committee to Combat Desertification and other substructures as identified in the National Action Plan or NAP.
By Emmanuel Mondaye –Editing by Jonathan Browne

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