By Olimatou Coker
The Ministry of Lands and Regional Government in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has on Wednesday held a day-long validation of legislative gaps assessment supported by FAO through the UN peacebuilding fund support project.
The project seeks to strengthen the government’s efforts in formulating a legal framework for land and natural resources related to conflict resolution, governance and to enhance mechanisms for communities where LNR conflict-related violence has already occurred and support action for peacebuilding.
According to officials, a gaps assessment was carried out to review existing legislation and policy documents on instruments relevant to the area of lands and natural resources management.
Speaking at the validation, Dr. Mustapha Ceesay, head of programmes at FAO, said the Gambia, being an agricultural country, with much of its territory devoted to crop production, livestock farming, fisheries, and natural resources exploitation, will naturally experience conflict over land and natural resources.
He stated that such conflicts are disagreements and disputes over access, control, and use of land and natural resources. “These conflicts often emerge because people or communities have different uses for resources such as forests, water, pastures, and land or simply want to manage them in ways that are different from those of other interest groups.”
According to Ceesay, between 2010 and now, the UN has invested more than 800 million dollars globally, in conflict resolution over land and natural resources.
“Conflict prevention is more cost-effective and warrants more investment and scaling up. This is in line with the global SDG targets, the NDP and the national SDG priorities of the Gambia.”
In addition to what he said, as they gather to scale up national efforts in conflict prevention by assessing the adequacy of legal and policy frameworks for effective land tenure governance and dispute resolution mechanisms in the Gambia.
Buba Sanyang, permanent secretary, lands ministry, said the purpose of this important exercise is to address major challenges in the governance of land tenure, forests, and other natural resources in the Gambia. “The key challenges include inadequate legal framework and poor enforcement of existing laws and customary law, as well as limitations of land administration institutions”.
“Finally, I call on all stakeholder representatives who are experts in their various sectors to participate fully and honestly in the vetting process,” he said.