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Local journalists attend training on Land Reporting

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A two-day regional training for local journalists in southeastern Liberia on reporting land issues ends in Ganta City, Nimba County under the auspices of the United Nstates Agency for International Development or USAID.

The training was organized by the Land Governance Support Activity or LGSA in collaboration with the Liberia Land Authority LLA with funding from USAID.It brought together over 55 local journalists representing various media institutions from Maryland, Sinoe, Grand Kru, River Gee, and Grand Gedeh Counties, respectively.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the communications and outreach specialist at LGSA, Richlue O. Burphy lauds the participants for the long distances they covered amid challenges especially, bad roads condition faced by people in the southeastern region.

Mr. Burphy notes that journalists play very important role in promoting the land sector of Liberia, so it is important to continuously provide training which will help refresh their minds and reporting skills in the region.

The participants were drilled on several topics; including, media in the Liberia land reform process, reporting land reform in Liberia, ways in writing an empowered land stories, and accessing land information, among others.

The training also focused on the critical role of the media in good land governance and impacts of the media role whether performed well or not and its reflection on national development. The LLA Public Relations Officer urges journalists to acquaint themselves with the Land Right Act in order to report and write properly on the sector.

He also commended President George Weah for signing into law the Land Right Act on 19 September 2018, adding that the law will now make locals take ownership of their Lands. Arthur Tucker said LLA relies solely and wholly on the local media to push the agenda, noting that they have been pushing for the passage of the act into law through their reportage.

He also promises the LLA fullest support to the local media in covering the land sector of the country, but cautions local journalists to be careful in how they report land issues because it has the propensity to spark conflict that could lead to problems ranging from family, region, and sectional disputes.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the South Eastern Journalist Association of Liberia or SEJAL lauds the LLA and partners for the training, noting the refresher training has provided them vast knowledge on reporting on the land sector.

Mr. Lloyd Farley pledges the local media commitment in working with the LLA and LGSA including its partners in highlighting land issues in the media positively. “We will continue to air the land related programs on our local radio stations in the southeastern region whether it is paid for or not, because the issues of land is very serious in our country. For the people to understand these issues, it takes the work of the local media”, he says.

He urges media colleagues to remain focus on land issues something, he notes, has the propensity to shift the destiny of land dispute positively.Reporter Aletha H. Weah of TOP FM, a local radio station in Zwedru City, Grand Gedeh County says her knowledge in reporting the land sector of Liberia has become more vibrant as a result of the training, and calls on her colleagues to put in practice knowledge acquired through radio programs that will talk about land related issues.

“I think our role is very critical to the land sector; that is the reason we were trained on how to report on the land sector. It is the local stations we are working with that the locals listen to as such, it is prudent for our capacity to be built in order to report positively on the land sector” she points out.

The local journalists were sent into communities of Ganta to put in practice what they were taught, including the roles of surveyors, criminal conveyance of land, the role of Civil Society Organizations, Land Rights law, Land dispute resolution, steps to acquisition of land, among others.

Wilfred Weah Duosi of Cape Rock radio in Maryland, Prince Copland of Radio Gee in River Gee County are among local journalists who attended the two days training and appreciated the organizers, but challenged them to do more in building the skills of local journalists in the country.

By George Kimbah/ Nimba–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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