River Cess Communities Receive US$10,000 to Complete Vocational Center

YARPAH TOWN, River Cess – The National Benefit Sharing Trust Board has released US$10,000 for the completion of a vocational training center in River Cess.

The funds were released to the Community Forestry Development Committee of Forest Management Contract Area B. A forest management contract refers to a license issued by the government to allow a company access to a tract of forest land. There are three forest management contracts in River Cess and Lower Nimba: B, C, and K.

In each contract area, a community forestry development committee is formed to represent the affected communities and is responsible for ensuring that the communities receive their social benefits and that the benefits are distributed equally.

The chairman of the CFDC, Matthew Walley, said the money was provided to complete the stalled construction of the vocational training center. The facility’s construction had been delayed due to the lack of funds.

In October 2016, one of the logging companies operating in River Cess, EJ&J Investment Corporation, provided US$46,341, which the communities decided to use for a vocational training center in Yarpah Town. But that money was not enough and Walley said the project could not be completed in time due to insufficient funds.

To remedy that situation, on February 24, 2018, the 12 clans that make up the affected communities of Forest Management Contract Area B converged in the Central River Cess Town of Neezwein and signed a resolution requesting US$20,000 in land rental fees from the trust board to complete the facility. Half of that amount would complete the construction while the remaining half would be used on furnishings.

“The building is at 75 to 80 percent,” Walley said. “Since we have gotten US$10,000 of the balance US$20,000, you can be assured we will complete the building.”

Matthew Walley is the chairman of the community forestry development committee of FMC area B. Photo: Eric Opa Doue

In keeping with the National Forestry Reform Law, communities affected by logging activities are entitled to 30 percent of fees paid by logging companies to the national government. Besides land rental fees, logging companies are also under obligation to pay US$1.50 per cubic meter directly to the communities’ account.

Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue

Eric Doue

Eric Opa Doue is a co-founder of Echo Radio Station, which does a series of programs in Bassa, Kru, and simple Liberian English. Under his leadership, Echo Radio was selected as one of the Moody Radio global partners for training opportunities in 2013 and 2014. Eric was one of a handful of reporters who received training from Internews in 2015 on humanitarian reporting during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. He holds a diploma in Journalism, from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

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