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CRC Sub-Committee on natural resources highlights lapses in land management

CRC Sub-Committee on natural resources highlights lapses in land management

The Committee on Natural Resources, Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) on 22nd October 2014 organized a training workshop for its members on the topic: Natural Resources Management-Land and Forestry. (Photo: A cross-section of participants at the workshop )

Held at the CRC Miatta Conference Center Secretariat, session 1 dealt with the topic: The Relevance of Environmental Management in the National Governance Structure (Land).

The United Nations Development Program Chief Technical Adviser to the Constitutional Review Committee, Mr. Sana Baloch was optimistic that members of the Natural Resources Committee would benefit from the training aimed at identifying lacunas and make salient recommendations to the CRC.

He also asked the facilitator, Mr. Stephen Jusu of the Ministry of Lands, which sections in the current Sierra Leone Constitution that deal with the environment, land, natural resources and fisheries and urged participants to learn best practices from the Constitutions of other African countries.

Mr. Sana Baloch continued that Government makes policies while the Constitution is a national document that cannot be easily changed and admonished participants to recommend a chapter or section in the new Constitution to deal with natural resources.

He went on to encourage participants to, if possible, come up with between five and six case scenarios with sections on how Constitutions have helped to improve natural resources management with Botswana as a good example.

Earlier, officially declaring the training workshop open, the Executive Secretary of the CRC, Mr. Samuel Coker articulated that the forum is an engagement with experts on natural resources and climate change, one of the thematic areas for participants to share knowledge, skills and experiences and hoped that the process would be successful.

He added that the CRC is supporting the process in a free atmosphere and urged participants to be very open-minded for the outcome of their deliberations to be beneficial to the CRC that is open to constructive suggestions/criticisms that would enrich the process.

The lead facilitator, the Chief Environment Officer in the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment, Mr. Stephen Jusu stated that the forum is to provoke debate, that environmental management is not mainstreamed into development and recalled Sierra Leone’s participation in the Rio Conference on Climate Change in Brazil in 1992.

He furthered that Sierra Leone lacks provincial and district planning and private sector investment in land adding that there is proliferation of various Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the sector that creates difficulties and overlapping of functions including poor coordination between donor agencies and recommended the establishment of a Lands Commission.

According to Mr. Stephen Jusu, environmental management is a human rights issue and informed that there is a chapter in the current Constitution that states that the benefits of natural resources is for all and not individuals.

Participants raised various issues relating to management and allocation of land with some accusing the Ministry of Lands of corruption.

However, others commended the Ministry for introducing the electronic database of title deeds and plans to introduce online registration of land to minimize conflicts and sanitize land management.

Other topics discussed were Defining the Environment, Background of Formal Environmental Management, Framework for Global Environmental Management, Institutional Obstacles to Environmental Management and Planning, Current Institutional Mechanisms and Polices/Legislative Structure and Challenges.

Participants, drawn from the university, political parties, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and the media, also examined the Constitutions of Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and South Sudan among others.

The question and answer sessions and recommendations climaxed the training workshop.

Madam Elizabeth Mans, APC Women’s Leader in her vote of thanks, commended the facilitator for taking them through the deliberations and appealed to participants to come out with a good Constitution.

Kongbap Sumner.

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