As part of the effort of government to reposition and enhance the management and functional capability of the land, housing and country planning sector, the Public Sector Reform Unit was requested by the Office of the Chief Minister to conduct a Management and Functional Review of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning. This management and functional review had key deliverables, which were focused on: (i) aligning the mandate and vision of the Ministry to the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP), and (ii) developing structures and processes aimed at strengthening service delivery.
This management and functional review is intended to provide the operational framework for advancing land sector structural and institutional reforms necessary to promote structural and institutional transformation to Sierra Leone’s land tenure system; streamline and modernize land delivery services; encourage optimal use of land and facilitate broad-based socio-economic advancement without overburdening and threatening the national ecological balance. This functional review is a dynamic management tool that will be used to direct attention to key issues and concerns in the land sector to ensure the cumulative effects of land sector reforms and intervention promoted by the government creates a positive environment for achieving national development goals as outlined in cluster 1.8 in the MTNDP.
Given the mandate of the Ministry as the institution primarily responsible for the management of land in Sierra Leone, functional review is critically important at this time considering the multiplicity of land ownership categories. The Ministry is expected to direct the government on matters relating to ownership, acquisition and use, as well as all the implications for sustainability. As the central authority for land use and management, the Ministry is required to develop policy on the efficient and sustainable use of land. Therefore, the mandate of the Ministry is not only limited to land surveying but extends to the formulation and implementation of sustainable human habitat development policies, a process which includes land mapping. The ultimate goal of the Ministry, as reflected in its Mission statement, is to administer effective policies for land use which contribute to the overall socio-economic development. These objectives are vital considering the issues of rural-urban migration and its attendant social, economic and political challenges. Similarly, issues surrounding land tenure outside of the Western Area also requires urgent attention.
Numerous laws, some dating as far back as colonial period, have been formulated to regulate land acquisition and use in Sierra Leone. Efforts have been made to update and revise some of the legislations to take account of modern practices and developments. However, much has not to be done to ensure effective land management in the country.
In as much as the role of the Ministry is defined within the policy framework of Sierra Leone, for a variety of reasons identified during this review, it has not been able to translate its mandate into first-rated policy and work processes.
Factors affecting the productivity of the Ministry include the lack of the political will to strengthen and further implement national policies on land use and management, lack of essential tools and resources, lack of well-trained professionals, limited implementation and employment of good
management systems and processes resulting to increased opportunity for corrupt practices, and weak coordination amongst stakeholder institutions.
Several developments at the national level have had implications on the work of the Ministry. Over the years, there have been several changes made in its nomenclature as well as its structure, with accompanying modifications to its functions. In particular, the devolution process as provided for in the Local Government Act 2004 will have to be appropriately coordinated if at all it is to be aligned with the mandate of the Ministry. Therefore, it is against these perennial challenges that recommendations have been proffered, which if thoroughly implemented will help to translate policies into action for better service delivery.