The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is responsible for the governance, management and promotion of agriculture in Liberia. The Ministry is responsible for the oversight of agronomy, animal husbandry and other agriculture industries, the economic organization of the agriculture and food industries, national food security, plant quarantine, agro-forestry, and has specific responsibilities for soil conservation. Some water resource matters used to be managed by the National Water Resources and Sanitation Board prior to the civil war, and proposals have recently been made for its re-establishment. The MoA plans, executes, administers, manages and supervises agriculture programs and provides extension services, trains local farmers in improved cultural practices, and supplies farm inputs to enhance food security. The Ministry of Agriculture, through its Quarantine Division, entitled to sign. is responsible for approving importation of agro-chemicals, recording all the chemicals which are imported into the country and checking them for their compliance to the allowed list of pesticides and to the international laws (mainly respect of Stockholm Protocol).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an autonomous statutory body, established under the Act Creating the Environmental Protection Agency of the Republic of Liberia 2003 (GoL, 2003a) to address the country’s environmental problems. Its mandate was subsequently confirmed when the EPA became a fully functioning entity in 2006, with the appointment of a board of directors and establishment of a Policy Council, under the President with a Policy Committee chaired by the minister for Lands Mines and Energy,
The EPA was established to “coordinate, monitor, supervise and consult with relevant stakeholders on all activities in the protection of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources” and as the lead national environmental agency is charged with executive authority for all environmental activities and programs relating to environmental management in Liberia (GoL, 2003a, s. 5). The EPA also has a key responsibility for matters relating to the issuing of an environmental impact assessment license and for compliance monitoring relating to environmental regulations and standards.
The Forestry Development Authority (FDA), established in 1976, was historically the government agency with primary responsibility for environmental management in Liberia. Now an autonomous body, and mandated by the National Forestry Reform Law of 2006, the FDA has responsibility for the protection, management and conservation of government-owned forests and wildlife on a sustainable basis. It manages commercial, conservation and community uses of Liberia’s forest estate. It provides long- and middle-range planning in the forestry sector as well as preparing forestry policy, law and administration. It exercises control of the commercial use of state-owned forests through the granting of concessions, supervises adherence to forest legislation and concession agreements, calculates and determines forestry fees, evaluates investment proposals, executes reforestation and forest research and training and monitors activities of timber companies. The 2006 law revised the institutional framework of the FDA and created a Department of Conservation which is made up of the Division of National Parks and the Division of Wildlife with the responsibility for development and management of protected areas and wildlife respectively.
The Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy has the statutory responsibility for the development of mineral, water and energy resources in Liberia; it is in charge of land surveys in all parts of the country and coordinates, administers and regulates the use of public and private lands in Liberia, including mineral resources through granting of operation licenses, and regulates beach sand mining. It works along with the Ministry of Agriculture and the University of Liberia to conduct training and research on land rehabilitation. Energy provision is administered through the same Ministry by the National Energy Committee, while water resources are the responsibility of the National Hydrological Service.
The Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs (MPEA) responsible for intersectoral coordination for s the development of policies, plans and programs for the economic, financial, social, cultural and physical development of Liberia. In fulfilling its various duties it serves as the direct link between implementing Ministries/Agencies, NGOs, private voluntary organizations, and the international community. Coordination occurs at the national, sectoral and regional planning levels and also involves the implementation of cross-cutting initiatives.
Other governmental institutions with environment-related responsibilities include the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoSW).
Management at Local Level
Statutory Management Practices In support of the establishment of the EPA, the EPA Act (GoL, 2003a) also established County and District Level environmental committees, responsible for the local delivery of national environmental policy and priorities. In a move towards a more bottom up approach, a key function of the committees is to articulate local level environmental issues to the EPA who in turn are charged with formulating and passing on a relevant response for local level implementation.
In addition, under Section 20 and 21 of the EPA Act (GoL, 2003a), the EPA is mandated to appoint environmental inspectors within districts to monitor the implementation of environmental standards as established under the EPML (GoL, 2003b). The power of these inspectors is wide ranging and includes the provision to close “any manufacturing plant, establishment or other activity which pollutes or is likely to pollute the environment, contrary to the provisions of the Act” (GoL, 2003a).
Traditional Management Practices Local level resource management is implemented through traditional systems and practices. At the lowest level of local administration, power and decision-making is in the hands of traditional tribal authorities. The highest rank is that of Paramount Chief who is responsible for the actions of a number of Clan Chiefs. The Paramount Chief is elected by the chiefs and elders but serves at the discretion of the President, who may veto the election. The Council of Elders (elderly, respected community members) must be consulted on important matters. The Paramount Chief has responsibility for enforcement of tribal customs, aspects of law and order, collection of taxes by lower rank chiefs, and promotion of agriculture, industries, trade and welfare.
It is difficult to judge the power of the chiefs, who remain strongly influenced by the secret societies (Poro/Sande) in relation to observance of tribal customs. Chiefs are not government employees, but retain a portion of taxes for their services and for local projects. Traditionally, their power is largely determined by their control (not ownership) of land. The interactions between the State and its institutions with the traditional tribal institutions and practices are regulated by the Hinterland Laws 1949 (GoL, 1949).