In all societies, some people continue to grow wealthy through their control of land, while the lack of control of the use of land helps to keep others poor, but this is especially true of the poor in rural areas in Sierra Leone and Liberia since without access to land the single most critical component of livelihoods in rural communities people’s survival may be called into question. Land in this context represents both an outcome of rural poverty and a root cause of this poverty.
Thus, it is crucial that as we attempt to achieve a balance or ‘peace’ between the economics and politics of national development, we ought to do so with the realization that we are walking a very tight rope. Concerns for ‘catching up’ in the so-called developmentrace which is materialistic, technological and global, must be tempered with maximizing the ‘good’ life of the people in the Mano River Basin. This means our development must be people centered and contextual. Good economics must meet good politics! It is the mastery of this mix more than anything else that underpins the evolution of appropriate governance rules and structures, and promotes sustained peace and stability of this sub-region.
The fact that we need local alternative development models cannot be overstated. It seems clear that the development trajectory we are now caught up in is quite very different from any other, anywhere. Insisting on applying old solutions to new problems leads us to the present challenges developed nations are already now experiencing. Their present it seems is our future! That is, if we pursue the kind of modernist globalist paradigm driven by insatiable desire for economic growth we are already in our future! Our nations it seems are going into the future backwards. Another development is desirable, necessary and we must work to make it possible. Something more and something new are required.
Added to the quagmire of what we call ‘development’ is a bag of tools including direct foreign investment which makes it possible for the great multilaterals to even circumvent governments before talking about ordinary village folks; and now land grabbing, a rather slippery and contested notion in a big need of further defining and operationalizing has been added. In what appears to be our marathon for development, people get pushed aside for profits, and unbridle economics define political expediency. The results is bad politics because it marginalizes already impoverished people the grassroots, bad socialization since it uproots the grassroots in the ultimate end there is no winner not even the multi-national corporations.
This edition of the Mano River Basin Civil Peace Service network newsletter highlights some critical issues in the region, emerging opportunities for eed partners and others to forge strategic alliances to facilitate peace building and provoke thoughts on possible implications these interventions may have on the peace and stability of the region.
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