This Land Market Study (LMS) was commissioned by Tetra Tech to inform the USAID-funded Liberian Governance Support Activity (LGSA). The aim of the LGSA is to support the establishment of more effective land governance systems, ready to implement comprehensive reforms to improve equitable access to land and security of tenure, to facilitate sustained and inclusive growth and development, ensure peace and security, and provide sustainable management of the environment.
The objective of the LMS is to examine the land services presently available in the country, and the gaps, or need/s not yet met, both at the county and national levels. The survey also highlights the types of land services that are in demand but have little capacity or are missing entirely. It concludes with a ranking of the services that have the highest demand, and those which have a high potential to contribute to the LGSA objectives and should be prioritized by the LGSA and the Government of Liberia (GOL) to support. The survey also advances specific recommendations on how the private sector can be engaged to realize some of the land services, throughout the county.
This survey was conducted in Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong and Nimba Counties. Their selection was based on their accessibility, high potential for growth, and history of land conflict. A total of 89 persons participated in the survey: 40 as Key Informants, and 49 as Focus Group Discussants. Males constituted 56% and females 44%.
Findings from the survey revealed that most of the land services (surveying, registering, land inspection, land dispute resolution, evaluation and appraisal, and probating of deeds) are available in all of the study counties. Every surveyed county has a service center where land services are being provided. However, the centers are under staffed and lack the logistical capacity to effectively serve the public. As such, some people wanting services are still coming to Monrovia. Other services mentioned outside of Monrovia included planting of cornerstone, someone to conduct due diligence, and caretaker of the land until it is ready to be developed.
According to service providers, the services with the highest demand in all survey counties include surveying, appraisal, architecture design and construction. Services with the lowest demand are GIS, real estate brokerage, and production of aerial maps. Their low demand is due to the fact that they are unaffordable by the majority of the population. Services to include inspection of land before construction are available at the Ministry of Public Works, but the Ministry lacks logistics to attend to customers’ needs.
Services which have a high potential to contribute to the LGSA objectives and for which LGSA and the GOL should prioritize their support are: a nationwide cadastral system, massive awareness to the public about land processes and instruments, and an institution to train land service providers.
Although women’s access to, and ownership of, land has improved, their access is still low compared to their male counterparts. Gender has not been sufficiently mainstreamed in the traditional land system, and many women are still denied access to their father’s land.
The private sector can be engaged to provide land services nationally and at the local levels by the government creating the enabling regulatory environment for private providers to venture into the counties. Credit facilities for innovative ideas, paved roads, provision of electricity and water, and creation of jobs will pull professionals to work in the counties as a result of demand for land services. The agricultural sector as well as the housing and urban development sector will be the main contributors to the increased demand for land services.
The recommendations captured for this report for the government and the project were:
- The passage of the Land Rights Act and the Land Authority Act and enacted into law with full implementation.
- The Land Authority should have prosecutor power.
- The government should prioritize setting up a nationwide cadastral system using digital technology.
- Work with the Probate Court to fast track the series of land issues to include probating and land dispute resolution. In the interim, there might be a need to set up a special land court and/or expand the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to accelerate the solving of land cases.
- The Probate Court and CNDRA should conduct due diligence before probating and registering deeds respectively.
- Create institutions to train land surveyors, and promote and formalize, through legislation, the Association of Professional Land Surveyors of Liberia that has been established to license and monitor ethical behavior of land surveyors.
- Tax unutilized land to serve as a disincentive to hoarding of large tracts of land.
- Provide adequate awareness on all land related legislation, to include the processes as it relates to acquiring and transferring a piece of land, and about the various land instruments at the Legislature.