-On Voluntary Gender Responsive Relocation Guidelines
Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), a global non-governmental organization and its local partner, the National Housing Authority (NHA) have completed the first step in developing Voluntary Gender Responsive Relocation Policy Guidelines (VGRRPG) to provide a framework for planned voluntary processes, under the Cities Alliance led Liberia Country Program and supported by the University of East London.
A two-day policy roundtable discussion held on April 23rd and 24th, 2019 brought together over sixty participants including women, drawn from twelve slum communities affected by various hazards, risks and vulnerabilities, as well as government agencies, Cities Alliance Liberia Country Program partners, and local organizations.
The relocation guidelines respond to demand from communities for clear principles, rights, community-led approaches, procedures, coordination and resources for all.
As part of the participatory process leading up to the policy roundtable discussions, during October 2019 twelve slum communities in Monrovia and Paynesville provided their initial inputs around their needs, concerns and perspectives to inform the development of the first draft of the VGRRPG. Twelve representative communities selected due to their various locational, climatic, and climate change risks and hazards, are listed below:
- Three communities affected by sea erosion, flooding, land reclamation, access/isolation – West Point, Popo Beach and Doe Community;
- Three Communities affected by surface flooding and lack of drainage, wind, storm and lightening – communities Clara Town, Doe Community and Gorbachop;
- Three communities commonly affected by insecure land tenure, fire, hygiene and sanitation, interstation and disease vectors – Peace Island, Buzzy Quarters, Wein Town;
- Three communities affected by social and economic challenges leading to extreme poverty condition- King Gray, Battery Factory and Chicken Soup Factory.
According to Mr. Es-samir Bropleh, the head of the Slum Upgrading Unit (SUU) at the NHA, the draft VGRRPG shared at the workshop for validation reflects all the inputs received from several community and governments stakeholders.
The community contributions included the two directly affected communities of West Point victims of sea erosion hosted at transitional shelters in Voice of America (VoA) community near Brewersville, and the host community. Eleven government agencies having full or partial mandate and roles in the relocation process provided inputs through consultations held in January 2019. These consultations included, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Public Works (zoning department), Liberia Land Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, National Disaster Management Agency, National WASH Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Monrovia City Corporation, Paynesville City Corporation, Liberia Marketing Association and the Federation of Petty Traders and Informal Workers Union of Liberia.
The National Housing Authority’s (NHA) Slum Upgrading Unit led by Mr. Es-Samir Bropleh, Mr. Barlue I. Nagbe (both of NHA) and George Gleh (of the Federation of Liberia Urban Poor Savers (FOLUPS) led the consultation process with the help of the multisectoral local Project Implementation Committee (PIC) and with support from Habitat for Humanity International.
Also speaking during the validation workshop, Mr. Mathew Ndote, Chief Party for Habitat for Humanity International said the objective of the policy roundtable discussions is to engage all relevant stakeholders in the development of VGRRPG that shapes a framework for engagement, coordination, and integration and respects human rights of affected communities. He emphasized that the draft guidelines will be validated at various levels, including through consultations with community and government stakeholders, policy roundtable discussions, the City Forum for Greater Monrovia, scheduled for the 29th of April 2019 and Cities Alliance Project Steering Committee scheduled for the 30th of April 2019.
Professor Siraj Sait, a development and gender policy specialist from the University of East London in the UK is in country to provide inputs into the validation process, facilitated by Sanjee Singh, Habitat for Humanity’s Director for International Housing Programs along with NHA.
Steve Weir, VP for Global Housing Innovation for HFHI closed by sharing his encouragement for the collaborative efforts noting the extraordinary level of passion and engagement by the participants. The products of this joint effort will have national and regional impact on much needed community driven model for slum relocation in a coastal region highly impacted by climate change.
The development of VGRRPG forms part of the contribution to enhancing the policy environment to address the challenges that vulnerable and low-income communities face.
These guidelines strive to ensure the implementation of effective proactive voluntary relocation that protect vulnerable communities from environmental risks and hazards and prevents the loss of life and property.
They include all necessary planning and preparation before, during and after relocation. Once finalized, the guidelines will be presented to the Government of Liberia through NHA for further action and elevation to a policy level.
Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Anchored by the conviction that housing provides a path out of poverty, since 1976, Habitat has helped more than 22 million build or improve the place they call home.
Habitat also advocates for improved access to decent and affordable shelter and offers a variety of housing support services that enable families with limited means to make needed improvements on their homes as their time and resources allow.
As a nonprofit Christian housing organization, Habitat works in more than 70 countries and welcomes people of all races, religions and nationalities to partner in its mission. TNR