Sierra Leone


Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has endured years of political and economic instability as a direct consequence of the civil war that lasted more than 10 years. During the war, many people left the country, much of the infrastructure was destroyed and institutions nearly disappeared. The country’s GDP is largely based on agriculture, amounting to 43% of the total GDP; 62% of rural population is rural, and the majority works in agriculture or mining sectors.

The Constitution grants the right to property but does not specify who owns the country’s land. Several land related laws were passed before the civil war. Statutory laws recognize private freehold land in some areas (specifically in Freetown and the Western Area), while customary laws govern land tenure in the rest of the country. The 2004 Local Government Act grants local councils the right to acquire and hold land, and it gives them the responsibility to create development plans. The Chieftaincy Act of 2009 establishes that the paramount chiefs are responsible for tax collection and for the promotion of improved land governance aimed at ensuring development at the regional level. In 2005, the government agreed on the principles guiding land tenure in the country; the 2005 National Land Policy promotes the protection of national and communal land and calls for the protection of existing rights of private ownership and the engagement of the private sector as the engine for the growth and development of the country.

The primary reasons for land disputes in Sierra Leone are related to lack of consent to land transfer, multiple interests on the same property, erroneous surveys, conflicts between families over land rights and the activities of the paramount chief. Land disputes are generally resolved by the chieftaincy, local courts or native administration courts. In general, courts have demonstrated to be inefficient due to the low standard of justice that they provide and high costs that limit their accessibility. 

Source of the narrative

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Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF)

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    • Very Good Practice
    • Good Practice
    • Weak Practice
    • Very Weak Practice
    • Missing Value

    Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure

    Legend: National laws adoption of the VGGT principle
    • Fully adopt
    • Partially adopt
    • Not adopted
    • Missing Value

    Note: The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (The VGGTs) were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security in 2012.

    The "VGGT indicators" dataset has been created by Nicholas K. Tagliarino, PhD Candidate at the University of Groningen, with support from Daniel Babare and Myat Noe (LLB Students, University of Groningen). The indicators assess national laws in 50 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America against international standards on expropriation, compensation, and resettlement as established by Section 16 of the VGGTs.

    Each indicator relates to a principle established in section 16 of the VGGTs. Hold the mouse against the small "i" button above for a more detailed explanation of the indicator.

    Answering the questions posed by these indicators entails analyzing a broad range of national-level laws, including national constitutions, land acquisition acts, land acts, community land acts, agricultural land acts, land use regulations, and some court decisions.


    Latest News

    5 May 2017

    KOIDU, Sierra Leone, May 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A dispute over a bridge in eastern Sierra Leone thought to span diamond deposits has divided a local community with a foreign mining company accused of illegally mining the area after volunteering to rebuild the overpass.

    The Congo Bridge in Koidu, the capital of Kono District, was deemed by local authorities to be in danger of collapsing after years of illegal small-scale mining around the base.

    By: Kieran Guilbert
    Date: November 1st 2016
    Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

    FREETOWN (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When floods struck several slums across Sierra Leone's capital last year, 55-year-old Amienata Bangura was forced to flee as her small shop, stock and years of savings were wiped out.

    Land: Enhancing Governance for Economic Development (LEGEND)

    The winners have been identified of a £3.65m Challenge Fund funded through DFID’s LEGEND (Land-Enhancing Governance for Economic Development) umbrella programme, to drive innovative and responsible investments in land, in particular agriculture. The fund, managed by KPMG LLP, seeks to improve the effects of land investments on communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

    By: Silas Gbandia
    Date: September 28th 2016
    Source: Equal Times

    A former member of Sierra Leone’s parliament has spoken of his determination to put an end to what he describes as the “underhand deals” taking place between the authorities and international palm oil producers in his country.

    Latest Blog


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    National Policies
    June 2010

    The Sierra Leone Trade Policy is a sectoral national policy. Its main goal is to promote a robust and competitive private sector and support growing production and service sectors to trade, at national and international levels, and contribute ultimately to wealth and employment generation.The Policy discusses the issue of food security in the context of agriculture. It notes that the development and diversification of agriculture is critical in determining rural livelihoods and food security, and improving the trade balance, while agro-processing plays a central role in diversification.

    August 2011

    This Act provides with respect to constitution, administration and jurisdiction of local courts and related matters. It also provides for appeal against decisions of local courts to the District Appeal Courts or to Customary Appeals Division of High Court. There is hereby established for each Chiefdom of Sierra Leone a Local Court which shall consist of a Chairman, Vice Chairman and such other members as the Minister may determine.

    December 2014

    This Act makes provision with respect to agreements for the purposes of lending money and related matters such as debt recovery. A “credit agreement” means an agreement in the nature of a credit facility, a credit transaction, a secured credit guarantee, any combination of these or any other agreement that relates to a transaction, regardless of its form that creates a security interest in movable property to secure all types of obligations, present or future, determined or determinable.

    January 2012

    These Regulations, made by the Board of the Environment Protection Agency under section 62 of the Environment Protection Agency Act, 2008 as amended by the Environment Protection Agency (Amendment) Act, 2010, provide with respect to environmental protection in mining operations. They shall apply to body corporates and individuals applying for or issued minerals rights under the Mines and Minerals Act 2009.