At least three clans in district number 4 in Grand Bassa County directly affected by the concession of the Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) have established a platform to promote peace and prevent conflict in the concession area.
Residents of New Cess, Kpowin and Joegba established the ‘Progressive Action for Sustainable Advocacy and Development Committee (PASADC)’, a multi stakeholders’ platform (MSP) that brings the government, concessionaires and community together for peace, dialogue and conflict prevention.
It was facilitated under UNDP project titled “Strengthening Conflict Prevention through Establishment of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms and Improved Alternative Livelihoods in Concession Areas.
Sabato Moore is the Community Liaison Officer of EPO. He terms establishment of the MSP as a great step forward in promoting peace and preventing conflict in the concession area. Moore promised to work closely with the government, community and partners to ensure the successful implementation of the project.
In 2008, the Government of Liberia signed a 50-year concession agreement with the Equatorial Palm Oil for the concession of 169,000 ha (7 years of rehabilitation followed by 43 years, starting in 2015, of operations) covering parts of Grand Bassa and Sinoe Counties. In 2017, the concession agreement was extended by five years and it runs till 2063.
The establishment of the ‘Progressive Action for Sustainable Advocacy and Development Committee’ followed a meeting supported and coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the National Bureau of Concession (NBC).
Also speaking, UNDP Economic Specialist/National Economist Stanley Kamara told the citizens to work collectively for the successful implementation of the project and the development of their communities and counties.
Mr. Kamara said the project brings together government and different partners including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and others to implement specific portions of the project.
“We’re so happy to have this kind of opportunity where we can sit with the government through the NBC and the company for us to discuss and dialogue on issues that are affecting our communities, clans and district… We will now be speaking with one-voice (as an organized body),” said Madam Rose Swen, Co-chairperson of the ‘Progressive Action for Sustainable Advocacy and Development Committee’.
As a female, she said she will rally the support of the women and young people in the affected communities to ensure that everyone is involved with the implementation of the project.
EPO signed 2 concessions that were previously oil palm estates for the development of oil palm in Liberia. EPO is part of a joint-venture with KL-Kepong International Limited, a subsidiary of Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK), one of the largest palm oil producers in the world.
For his part, NBC Deputy Director General Ramses T. Kumbuyah said the NBC as a Bureau responsible to monitor and evaluate compliance with concession agreements in Liberia is concern about the effort of community engagement for sustainable peace, human and food security.
The NBC was established by an Act of the Legislature on September 23, 2011, to provide the governance framework for coordinating post concession award processes.
“The government of Liberia attaches much interest to the concession sector which contributes to national social economic development of the country” Kumbuyah said.
The UNDP led project is aimed at improving concession management, effective mitigation systems, monitoring, prevention, policy reforms and improve sources of livelihoods in project- related concession areas.