The Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SiLNoRF) is a non-profitable and a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that seeks to use evidence based lobbying and advocacy for the effective and efficient realization of the Right to Food (RtF) and responsible Land Governance in Sierra Leone.
SiLNoRF’s vision is a Sierra Leone, where every person has sufficient and adequate food and fully claim their rights to food. The network’s goals are defined by its strong and diverse membership. Currently,16 members operate in 53 local communities in Bombali, Port Loko, Tonkolili, Bo, Kenema and Kono district. They contribute to people’s awareness on the right to adequate food as it is defined by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) and interpreted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
At the World Social Forum, held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007, burning issues like petroleum crisis and soaring food prices were discussed, which led to the idea of setting up an African network on the Right to Food. A lot of CSOs were represented from across the continent among them was the Director of Mankind’s Activities for Development Accreditation Movement (MADAM), Mohamed S. Conteh in Makeni and now also the National Coordinator of SiLNoRF.
The African Network on the Right to Food (ANoRF) was established in 2008 in Cotonou, Benin and Mohamed S. Conteh was appointed as Focal Person for Sierra Leone. In July, 2008, Mr. Conteh pioneered the establishment of the local network which is today known as the Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SiLNoRF) by bringing together other Civil Society Organizations. Since 2008, SiLNoRF has been engaged in Right to Food and Land Rights advocacy particularly, focusing on women’s access to and ownership of land for farming.
The organization has a daunting task in achieving these objectives due to the poor and weak land management system in Sierra Leone, which causes conflicts around documentation and selling of land. In line with that, another prevalent challenge is how large amounts of land have been leased by multi-national companies, often not engaging local communities in the negotiation process sufficiently and sometimes leads to land grabbing. (Land grabbing: This is the act of claiming ownership of a piece of land without following appropriate procedures recognized by statutory or customary law in Sierra Leone).
Therefore, it goes without saying that, SiLNoRF has a huge challenge in ensuring that, policy and decision makers address the numerous factors responsible for poor land governance in Sierra Leone.
However, SiLNoRF contributed in lobbying the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) to put in place guidelines which are in line with International Guiding Principles, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food and on Tenure and Fisheries for large scale Land Investment in Sierra Leone. In cooperation with other actors, SiLNoRF succeeded in getting the government to formulate a National Land Policy (NLP) in 2015 which seeks to address key land tenure governance issues and which also proposes to improve upon and strengthen the existing land administration and management systems. The NLP maintains the dual land tenure systems in the West Area and the Provinces. Specifically, it provides a framework for institutional and legal reforms geared towards a more effective land delivery system.
SiLNoRF is doing its advocacy through the use of the media, meetings, conferences, and seminars at community, district, national and international level. ; On top of that, the network builds the capacity of local communities and they support the establishment of local community groups like the Affected Land Owners/Users Associations (AFLOUAs) so that they can effectively claim their rights. Especially the organization of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms and mediation meetings, allow for constructive dialogue and the prevention of conflicts. Through this way the communities can actively participate in land lease negotiation processes, built on the principles of transparency, accountability, equity and justice.