A new generation of land surveyors is tackling Liberia's challenges

30 September 2022

Next spring, 20 land surveying students at AME University in Monrovia will be ready to enter the workforce. In a country where border disputes and land issues are a source of concern, they have an important task ahead of them. They are a new generation of land surveyors who are being trained, thanks to the support from Sweden and Lantmäteriet 's ILAMP project in Liberia.

- I am so looking forward to learning even more and then starting to work as a land surveyor, says Abigail N. Pellewuman.

She is one of the 20 students who are now in the second year of the advanced the education to become a complete land surveyor next spring. Then they have gone through courses in, among other things, GIS, remote sensing, land surveying, cartography as well as ethics and law.

Can already make digital maps

Sylvester Bundoo is the Director of Land Administration at the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) and also teaches the land surveying students at AME University. Click on image to enlarge it.

Theoretical studies are interspersed with practical moments out in the field with total stations and GNSS equipment used in boundary surveys and data collection.
Students can already make digital maps with good quality.

– We equipping them with all the knowledge they need to tackle the challenges that exist within Liberia in terms of country affairs. These students will definitely make a difference when they graduate, says Titus S. Zoneh, geomatics program coordinator at AME University.

Border disputes common in Liberia

Liberia is a country where a large part of the ownership is based on customary law - so-called "customary land" - without a formally registered ownership. This is changing through a formalization process. In that process, the newly trained surveyors will have an important task.

Border disputes between different communities - village communities - are also common. The fact that the students are now also trained in ethics is an important step in the professionalization of the profession and so that deeds can be issued on the right grounds.

The majority of students are women

The majority of students already have an employment at the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) and they will return after completing their studies - now with new skills.

- It feels very good because it is completely in line with our mission here in Liberia which is about capacity building, says Christopher Byren, who is project manager for Lantmäteriet 's ILAMP project.

He is particularly happy that the absolute majority of students are women. It was a requirement from ILAMP to step in and support the education financially.

It is also praised by the students themselves. Women in Liberia are marginalized when it comes to national issues, says student Anna Doe. Now that a whole bunch of trained female surveyors are entering the profession, it will make a difference:

- I hope there will be even more after us. We are the first, and we are so happy for this chance, says Anna Doe.

Modern measuring equipment is in short supply

The challenge that both teachers and students raise is the lack of modern equipment at LLA's offices outside the country. During the training, students learn to work with modern digital tools – in reality, they will often have to use older measuring equipment such as theodolites and measuring tapes. At least if they work at LLA's local office.

From left: Sylvester Bundoo (LLA), Christopher Byren, project manager ILAMP, students Abigail N. Pellewuman, Terrence A. Hill and Anna Doe, and Matu K. Williams (LLA).

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