John takes us through the steps to initiatiate participatory development planning and guide communities through inclusive decision making.
John F. Kelvin is Land Program Coordinator at Rights and Rice Foundation (RRF), Liberia. He's one of many participants from the joint ILC, Namati and IIED Community Land Protection Learning Initiative. The Initiative is designed to build a supportive cross-regional community of practice that facilitates learning between community land rights advocates . It equips ILC members with the practical skills to support communities to document and protect their indigenous and customary lands while strengthening local land governance, natural resource management, and the land rights of women and members of marginalized groups.
THE COMMUNITY LAND PROTECTION LEARNING INITIATIVE IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ILC MEMBERS TO LEARN FROM PEERS HOW TO PROTECT COMMUNITY LAND.
In the context of costumary land rights, decision making risks to be passive. Leaders tend to meet and decide on behalf of communities. RRF decided to discourage this by taking advantage of the Land Rights Law that promotes inclusive decision making - including the respect of the rights of women, youth and other groups.
STEP 1: REFLECT WITH THE COMMUNITY
The community gathers and discusses the requests of the investor seeking out their land. What role will the community have once investors come in? What rights will they maintain? The discussion is documented for the following step.
STEP 2: HISTORICAL TIMELINE
The community has evolved over time. Young people may have migrated and come back, they need to know where they’re coming from and feel a sense of belonging to the land they aim to protect. The historical timeline is a documentation of key events from the establishment of the community until the present. At the same time, it is a key resource for the future.
STEP 3: START A DIALOGUE WITH THE COMPANY
The community invites the investor to listen to their concerns. Both women and men talk in an inclusive way. The responses of the investor set up the basis for the last step of the process.
STEP 4: TIME TO VOTE
Bring the community to an inclusive decision making process that is not influenced by leaders. The “direct tracking matrix” is a process done on the ground, initiated by the community using local materials to represent their voting process. Women have their own line. A volunteer counts the votes, and the majority of votes sets the final decision. The community formalizes and communicates their vote by writing a letter to legislators and decision makers.