Amplio and Landesa have a new partnership to raise awareness on land rights for women and rural communities in Liberia. In September 2018, Liberia passed the historic Land Rights Act, which guaranteed ancestral land rights for millions of rural Liberians, including women’s land rights. Now, Landesa is using the Amplio Talking Book to help spread the word. Millions of families rely on agriculture—and secure land rights are an essential step toward larger goals of income and food security.
Sharing Talking Book messages about new policies, gender, and dispute resolution
Rural Liberian women farmers and their families will be able to listen to Talking Book messages on demand. Messages will explain the new land rights policies and the legal framework governing land (including the Land Rights Act), with a focus on gender and women’s land rights. Content will also include messaging on youth land rights, the Alternative Dispute Resolution, and health and livelihood development topics.
In partnership with Development Education Network Liberia and Foundation for Community Initiatives, Landesa will distribute 170 Talking Books through a household rotation listening model. Talking Books will help Landesa staff maintain social distancing protocols while continuing their important work. Landesa expects to reach about 13,600 participants in the pilot stage, and many more when the program scales up next year.
Margaret McClung, Deputy Chief Program Officer at Landesa, said the pilot will be implemented through December 2020, with plans to scale soon. 700 Talking Books will be added to reach many more women beginning in November.
“We always intended to weave Talking Books into our Land Rights for Sustainable Development Project, beginning in January 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity to accelerate the timeline and test Talking Books. This pilot is helping us to keep land rights information flowing in communities while we can’t do in-person training, community theater, etc.”
Landesa’s Talking Book program will build on current and past initiatives in Liberia and start with a pilot project in 14 communities.
Landesa’s commitment to women’s land rights in Liberia
Landesa has worked in Liberia since 2012, first to research laws and customs around land rights and then to provide support to the government to make those practices more equitable and sustainable. McClung said Liberia's Land Rights Act is one of the most progressive acts of land reform on the African continent—but policy changes must be supported by awareness campaigns so that Liberians understand their rights. The Talking Book will help promote awareness, as well as positive attitudes and practices, through educational and entertaining audio content.
“Women in rural areas of Liberia often face gender and age-based discriminations that both contribute to, and are compounded by, insecure land rights. One example is that land is typically considered to be men’s domain, which affects women’s ability to own and access land independently or to engage in land-related decision-making from the household to the national level. With the Talking Book, we’ll be providing women and the gatekeepers in their communities with access to information about women’s land rights and gender equality under Liberian law. This is a key step towards ensuring that women can enjoy their equal rights and have a seat at the table for governing community land and resources.”
Partnering in support of gender equality
Ranked as one of the top 10 NGOs in the world, Landesa works with governments and local organizations to secure legal land rights for the most vulnerable women and men around the world. Like Amplio, they are headquartered in Seattle.
Lindsay Dakan, Amplio’s global partnerships program coordinator, says she’s especially excited for the project because of its focus on women. “Landesa is such a highly respected organization, and the Liberia project is a great fit for the Talking Books. We’ve been trying to find the right opportunity to work together for a while now, so it’s wonderful to see this come together.”