Change is at hand in Liberia. A new Government, inaugurated in January 2018, takes shape under H.E. President George Manneh Weah who took over from former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Also, we bid farewell to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which brought stability and reassured a nation scarred by back-to-back wars.
The new Government puts a pro-poor agenda firmly forward, with renewed and revised national priorities to address the high rate of poverty and its root causes. In this new Liberian landscape, UNDP, the UN family and development partners have significant roles to play to support government and civil society .
Over its 14-year lifespan, UNMIL was the public face of the UN in Liberia and an invaluable partner. It had a tremendous impact on the lives of Liberians, helping with stabilisation after the conflict, and being present during the 2014 Ebola crisis. But, while UNMIL is leaving, it is vital that Liberians are assured that the UN is still firmly there and will keep carrying its mandate.
The United Nations Country Team, comprising 18 in-country agencies, funds and programmes, conducted an assessment to identify the gaps and needs of the UN system in a post-UNMIL world. UNDP was identified as having one of the largest roles to play in both filling those needs and pushing the development goals forward.
UNDP’s main focus is on poverty reduction through sustainable economic transformation and good governance, and integrity systems. Our work in Liberia will continue to focus on these two pillars in a post-UNMIL context.
One of Liberia’s main objectives over the next few years is decentralisation, to counter the traditionally Monrovia-centric way of working that meant people living in remote towns and villages were largely cut-off from the benefits of urbanisation, a phenomenon experienced by other countries too.
Take for instance access to basic government services. Legal documents like passports, birth and death certificates, or business registration had to be done through Monrovia, at great cost and time to, say, rural citizens.
Together with UNMIL, Sweden, the EU and USAID, UNDP helped build County Service Centres nationwide to bring these services where people live, so they can spend less money and time to get necessary documents. Ensuring these county centres run smoothly is UNDP’s and its partners’ next goal.
On the other hand, the main drivers of conflict are still present in Liberia. Jobs for young people remain a challenge. More than 60 percent of Liberians are under 25, and yet a large number of them are under- or un-employed. Over the next few months, UNDP will work with various partners to support the Government in providing opportunities for young people to train, study and work in fields that will move Liberia’s development goals forward, such as its agricultural and technology industries.
While the post-UNMIL context is new territory for this stabilising nation, UNDP and the UN are firmly committed to ensure no one is left behind and stand ready to assist Liberia in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing pro-poor priorities, and ensuring sustainable peace.
Download the brochure on UNDP's role in helping Liberia move forward (PDF)