I am writing to express my view on your newspaper on land dispute and illegal land ownership. These are controversial issues, hence the need to bring them into public focus.
A few decades ago, The Gambia was fortunate to establish effective legal instruments either by way of customs or statutes to make land readily available to all Gambians. This enabled many to acquire land within legal means and as a result, the issue of land dispute remained at low ebb. Recently, this attitude seems to be taking a radical shift as land becomes more expensive with many knowingly or unknowingly tampering with legal frameworks that govern land.
This has made illegal land deals now common and land dispute oftentimes complex. There have been cases where plaintiffs allegedly accuse village alkalolu of selling or transferring ownership of land to several people at different times. Part of these developments has resulted into acrimonious brawls between opposing parties laying claim to the same land. This calls for government intervention and the Ministry of Lands and Regional Governments has a role to play when it comes to settling the issue of land disputes.
Meanwhile, illegal land ownership takes different forms and appeal to different individuals. From processes of buying, transfer and to actual acquisition, land ownership is becoming a serious issue as the scramble for land enters a dramatic phase in this country. What is even more interesting is that most plaintiffs suspect foul play by village alkalolu because they preside over matters relating to the transfer of land.
Modernity has brought about a transition and The Gambia is now moving away from once popular customary land acquisition system where people acquire land through well-established customs and traditions. Land is getting scarce and has led to a more modern type of land acquisition system called the statutory land law system where land is only acquired through codified documents as governed by the supreme laws of the country. It’s important, therefore, that we reflect on issues that have made this transition painfully slow.
A combination of factors can be attributed to the issue of land dispute. Some land operatives and alkalolu need to be properly admonished by law on how they go about selling land. Selling a single plot of land to different people is illegal and measures need to be put in place to address such issues. This will enable all to live peaceful lives and avoid confrontation.
By Pa Babou Sohna
Scaling up NGO impact on development
I am writing to share with you my viewpoint on your respectable newspaper on how to increase the impact of non-governmental organisations on development. I would like to mention four major points which I believe would be helpful in our collective national development drive.
First, scaling up the impact of non-governmental organisations can yield great dividends when these organisations establish effective cooperation with government. This is important because the state remains the ultimate referee and determinant of wider political changes on which development is dependent. In simple and clear terms, creative dialogue should exist between NGOs and state institutions for greater impact.
Second, for many non-governmental organisations, an obvious strategy to ensure greater impact on development is to expand on their projects and programmes which have been judged to have been successful. NGOs can improve on their performance when they fully expand on their operations for development.
Third, scaling up NGO impact on development can also be effective when non-governmental organisations lobby and advocate for change both at national and international levels. In order to achieve greater impact, they must be willing to enter into constructive dialogues with the institutions they are trying to lobby.
Fourth, NGOs must support grassroots or community-led initiatives through mobilisation, networking and forming links. This is meant to enhance the growth of community organisations and encourage them to link up through networks and federations. In many instances, NGOs have been found to be good intermediaries to speed up assistance as they expand and foster links between communities.
To sum it up all, the role of civil society of which non-governmental organisations form an integral part is critical to development. At a minimum, it is prudent for these NGOs to work with and within government structures to influence policy and systems that would attract greater impact on development. After all and in a subtler vein, it is a matter of perfecting the diligence and performance of the vision and mission of civil society.