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

Disclaimer: The data displayed on the Land Portal is provided by third parts indicated as the data source or as the data provider. The Land Portal team is constantly working to ensure the highest possible standard of data quality and accuracy, yet the data is by its nature approximate and will contain some inaccuracies. The data may contain errors introduced by the data provider(s) and/or by the Land Portal team. In addition, this page allows you to compare data from different sources, but not all indicators are necessarily statistically comparable. The Land Portal Foundation (A) expressly disclaims the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any data and (B) shall not be liable for any errors, omissions or other defects in, delays or interruptions in such data, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Neither the Land Portal Foundation nor any of its data providers will be liable for any damages relating to your use of the data provided herein.


Indicators Year Value Unit Dataset Source Remove

Loading data ...

Compare countries


Loading data ...


Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF)

Please, select year and panels to show the info.

    • 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. The indicators of this dataset assess national laws against Section 16 of the VGGT standards on expropriation, compensation, and resettlement.

    Each indicator relates to a principle established in the VGGTs.

    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

    'Help us upgrade, don't evict us': Sierra Leone's slum dwellers battle for their homes

    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)

    DFID’s LEGEND programme announces winners of £3.65m challenge fund

    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.

    Sierra Leone's farmers continue to fight multinational land grabs

    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.


    Displaying 1 - 6 of 67

    Country Study 3: Sierra Leone - a state on the move

    After ten years of civil war in which grave human rights violations and atrocities were committed, especially against women and children, Sierra Leone was regarded as a «failed state». A massive UN peacekeeping mission managed to demobilize the combatants in 2002 and peace was restored. Public institutions have begun to resume their functions and the economy is showing signs of recovery. Nonetheless, the country's stability and structures are still fragile. So how can development cooperation contribute towards stabilizing Sierra Leone?

    Fragile states: What can we learn from the country studies?

    Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Somalia: these three countries stand for different histories of a fragile state.The author of this article analyses different case studies to determine the various causes, such as the role of ethnic identities, claims to power by clans and other sub-state groups, or the lack of societal representation within the governments. For the author, the greatest risk to a state is violence, which can quickly spiral out of control in a weak state and lead to chaos.

    Those in darkness drop from sight

    Sierra Leone is one of the least developed countries in the world and is still recovering from a civil war that ended in 2002. Increasingly, the Sierra Leonean government seeks to attract foreign investors through providing opportunities for large-scale land leases for the development of agribusiness. This has triggered a rapid transformation process that poses a considerable threat to food security and social stability. Despite being a pilot country for the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure, there is no real change on the ground as yet.

    Resource information

    September 2016