This summer, I had the privilege of working with several healthcare workers in Liberia and Sierra Leone to bring a more personal perspective to the situation on the ground in West Africa. The need to rebuild after the Ebola epidemic is something that will continue well after the soundbites are done; these heroes are in need of more training, actual salaries, and reinforcements.
Looking out over a new oil palm plantation in Liberia. Credit: Dan Klotz
In December, I spent a week in Liberia with an Agence France Presse (AFP) reporter exploring two large-scale land acquisitions in which the Liberian government turned over large swaths of land for oil palm and rubber plantations, ignoring the rights of the communities that live on the land. The trip was part of the outreach work I have been doing for Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).
Underlining the dire problems confronting these communities, four people with whom we visited were arrested shortly after we left.
After the trip, the AFP reporter filed two feature-length stories detailing the difficulties inherent in these transactions (http://bit.ly/YaJ0G4 and http://f24.my/UhCU62). Last week, my photos from the trip were featured in a slide show on AllAfrica.com (http://j.mp/15CeiZC) that highlighted two new reports from RRI.
A new rush on land in developing countries is trampling land rights in impoverished communities. Over the past five years, the Liberian government sold or leased more than one third of the country’s land for logging, mining, and agriculture. The government of South Sudan ceded control of nine percent of the new nation’s lands even before announcing its independence. http://bit.ly/xm828y