In Sierra Leone Solidaridad implemented a project which is part of the LEGEND programme funded by DFID (2016-1019). The private sector partner in this project is the Natural Habitats Sierra Leone, which currently operates in two oil palm production areas, located around Yele and Zimmi in the Gbonkolenken district of Northern Sierra and Pujehun district of Southern Sierra Leone respectively.
The project focused on reducing and formalizing the original concession size in the Zimmi area of Makpele Chiefdom in Pujehun District from the actual size of 30,700 HA to maximum 10,000HA destined for oil palm production. NHSL inherited the lease from the erstwhile West Africa Agriculture #2 (WAA2) who acquired the land in 2012 through a few elites and with no respect to the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of legitimate land owners. To comply with the RSPO New Planting Procedure a HCV assessment and impact assessment were required. In addition, NHSL recognizes all right holders living on the land, therefore active community sensitization and outreach was ongoing before the LEGEND project started. By informing communities about the activities of NHSL and the opportunity to lease land to the company, the NHSL community outreach team initiated a process of documenting land rights with GIS mapping with the aim of formalizing land lease agreements between landowners and NHSL.
This project aimed at capturing replicable lessons on responsible land-based investment from the NHSL experience. Topics of specific interest include: how to approach community engagement, how to raise awareness on land rights and negotiate the terms of the lease with support from paralegal organization (NAMATI) and how to implement an inclusive and transparent Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process towards documented land lease agreements.
The map below shows the Makpele Chiefdom. The original concession as inherited by NHSL covered the entire Chiefdom and needed to be replaced by a bottom up combination of individual land lease agreements, negotiated and agreed by the landowning families directly. The green triangles on the map shows the communities where NHSL and the LEGEND project have focused their engagement and interventions.
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The Solidaridad Network is an international civil society organisation founded in 1969. Its main objective is facilitating the development of socially responsible, ecologically sound and profitable supply chains. It operates through nine regional expertise centers in over 50 countries. Solidaridad seeks to transform production practices to promote fair and profitable livelihoods and business opportunities, decent working conditions and a fair living wage. Solidaridad without depleting the landscapes where people live and thrive.