“For people to benefit from the law, they need to know that it exists.” –Constance Teage, Land Tenure Specialist at Landesa
On November 19, Amplio and Landesa presented a joint webinar to share the exciting news of our partnership to share information on the 2018 Land Rights Act with remote communities in Liberia. The law guarantees ancestral land rights for millions of rural Liberians and promotes gender equality by enabling land rights to women. Emmanuel Urey, Liberia Program Director at Landesa, shared that the government hopes that clear land rights may help to prevent civil war, conserve biodiversity, and provide economic empowerment to rural communities.
The problem? There are several barriers in getting the information to the rural, hard-to-reach communities. Constance Teage, Land Tenure Specialist at Landesa, explained that poor road conditions, flooding, and COVID-19 restrictions make it difficult to reach communities. Rural areas lack internet and technology access, and many people do not have cell phones. Liberia has 16 different languages, and many areas have low literacy rates, so often resources are not inclusive of all citizens. Lastly, there are social norms that prevent women from accessing information or legal rights.
Amplio and Landesa have partnered to help the Liberian Land Authority overcome barriers and distribute this critical information through Talking Books. So far, audio messages have been developed in three local languages. Talking Book content includes information about women’s land rights, youth land rights, alternative dispute resolution, and where to find additional, specific resources. The program is using a household listening model—meaning the device is passed between households to accommodate social distancing.
In late summer, a pilot program of 170 Talking Books was so successful that Landesa ordered 700 additional devices. Constance shared that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and neighboring communities are even requesting Talking Books after hearing good reviews.
While still in the early stages, Landesa is hopeful that the program will cause positive behavior change. The long-term vision is for Liberia to manage land by local customs while complying with the new law in a socially inclusive and gender equitable way.