Government of Liberia should be accountable for massive human rights violations, pollution of water sources, land, and natural resources of indigenous communities in Liberia.
Monrovia – The Natural Resource Women Platform (NRWP), Green Advocates International (GAI) and Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD) in collaboration with WoMin African Alliance, a Pan- African ecofeminist alliance at the forefront of resistance against large developments which extract and export Africa’s natural resources wealth causing violence, pollution, and the loss of lives and livelihoods, are calling for prompt and urgent action to protect women and communities across Liberia. In particular, those affected by Bea Mountain opens in a new windowMining Company in Grand Cape Mount County, Golden Verolum operations in Sinoe County, Salala Rubber Corporation in Margibi County, Liberia Agriculture Company in Grand Bassa County and Western Cluster in Bomi County.
Women from these five counties in Liberia are gravely affected by the operations of big concessionaires through land grabs, loss of farmland, desecration of traditional and cultural sites, and pollution of water, land and other sources of livelihoods. In a joint statement issued following a recent field visit to the affected communities of Bea Mountain by visiting WoMin organisations from six countries including Cameroon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso and Liberia, WoMin and partners heard the experiences of Liberian women from the five counties and from the visiting country participants. All of them expressed frustration and the suffering and poverty facing women and children because their only sources of livelihoods including land and water sources being polluted as there is no way to farm and garden, fish and get other sources of food from the water.
For women from Sinoe County the land has been completely overtaken by oil palm plantation Golden Veroleum, leaving them with no land to farm or carry out their traditional practices. In the Salala Rubber Plantation concession area in Margibi County, women are facing a similar situation with no land for farming, leaving towns and villages with nowhere to farm and garden, whilst the Liberian Agriculture Company in Grand Bassa County has taken nearly taking all the land for rubber trees. In the Bea Mountain concession area in Grand Cape Mount County the situation is even worse. Women from the affected communities appeared very depressed from the stress of travelling over long distances to fetch water and food for their families due to the major water source being polluted with chemicals.
After a solidarity and experience sharing field visit, women from the six countries are jointly demanding urgent action from the government in protecting the rights of communities, especially women in the affected communities. They shared their experiences with their Liberian counterparts and provided insights on how they have been able to resist the violations of their rights by concession companies.
From their testimonies, people in the affected communities are left without any other source of livelihood as they depend on the land for farming, medicinal, traditional and other purposes and water for farming, drinking, swimming, bathing, fishing, cultural, religious, traditional activities and other sources of livelihood. With the actions of these concessionaires to take away the land and cause pollution to the water, the communities mainly women are finding it difficult to survive. Many women wept bitterly while narrating their ordeal to the other women from West African countries that had come to see their plight. Women who are caregivers are suffering and are the most impacted as they must go out in search of food and water for the family thereby further exposing them to abuse and violation of their human rights and dignity.
The Liberian women along with their West African colleagues are saying NO to:
- Forceful land grab and eviction of communities by concessionaires for the purpose of planting rubber, oil palm, engaging in logging and mining activities.
- Pollution of water and land through the discharge of harmful chemicals such as mercury, cyanide, arsenic, iron, copper, nitrate and sulfate, amongst other harmful chemicals into the environment.
- Increased workload to already existing work that women perform daily taking the little time they have to care for themselves, looking for fertile land to farm, and fetching water from long distances.
- Destruction of our means of livelihood such as rivers, streams, and creeks for farming, gardening, drinking, fishing, and other food.
- Investment that negatively impacts the lives of communities due to the lack of applying Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from the very beginning of the agreement.
We are saying YES to:
- Renegotiation of the concession agreements – to put in place friendly environmental measures that will protect the communities as well as the biodiversity they have protected for decades.
- An alternative livelihood for communities especially women, embedded with the clear vision that the communities have for development.
- Right to cultural and traditional practices and way of life.
- Involvement of women in all concession negotiations from the very beginning.