In Liberia, the Cities Alliance Country Programme Has Taken Off
[18 March 2018] --Nearly two years into implementation, the Cities Alliance Liberia Country Programme is already making progress in achieving its primary goal: to bring greater Monrovia’s slum dwellers – who make up 70 per cent of the city’s population – into the national development process and improve living and working conditions for the urban poor.
At the national level, there has been a real recognition that developing the national economy means having efficient and effective cities, with mechanisms for mobilising capacity and engaging citizens. A National Urban Forum and a citywide forum have been held, where all stakeholders – national and local government, civil society organisations, development partners, urban poor and street traders – were able to share their views and discuss priorities for Greater Monrovia.
At the local level, community profiling and settlement forum activities that identify community priority needs have helped informal settlements become acknowledged as an integral part of the city. In addition, petty traders are increasingly seen as contributors to the economy instead of nuisances.
These successes have set the stage for a significant expansion of the Country Programme. In December 2017, the European Union announced that it would provide US $7 million (EUR 5.9 million) in funding for two projects on urban waste management and waste-to-energy that will expand the scope of the Country Programme. Small community infrastructure projects to deliver quick wins.
At the same time, the Community Upgrading Fund (CUF) component of the Country Programme is getting underway. Funded by Comic Relief, the CUF finances small infrastructure projects that are selected and implemented by communities, helping them mobilise and engage with local authorities in the process.
Ten projects are currently under design, with the engagement of the National Housing Authority engineering department, local government authorities and community leaders. The ten projects include five community infrastructure and five renovation projects.
The five community infrastructure projects will build:
-- Three water points in King Peter Community;
-- Community meeting halls in Cow field and Peace Island communities;
-- Three classroom blocks for a kindergarten school in West Point community; and
-- A public toilet facility in Popo Beach community.
The five renovation projects are:
-- Rehabilitation and expansion of a community rally point in Clara Town;
-- Renovation of a latrine in Blamo Town, Jorkpan, and Zondo Town;
-- Rehabilitation of the Tomorrow Children’s school in Nyuanpanton community.
Both the EU-funded urban waste management projects and the CUF activities will be implemented by the Cities Alliance Secretariat – a marked shift for the partnership, which has always implemented through members. The EU urban waste projects are expected to launch in April 2018.
Providing oversight for Country Programme activities
In February and March, Cities Alliance teams travelled to Liberia to provide oversight of current projects and work on the scope and design for the CUF.
The team monitored the progress of the Country Programme, including:
-- The Imagine Monrovia project, implemented as Catalytic Fund grant to the Monrovia Corporate Commission to collect data and survey three slum communities, which closes in March 2018;
-- The profiling of all informal settlements of Greater Monrovia, supported by Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) ; and
-- The strengthening of the Federation of Petty Traders & Informal Workers Union of Liberia (FEPTIWUL) over the course of the year to negotiate improved working conditions with the city police and local government, supported by WIEGO.
Joint site visits to CUF project locations with communities and engineers to assess the feasibility of the projects and engage community leaders.
The team followed up on the activities related to the affordable housing component. As part of the Country Programme’s work with the housing market value for Liberia, HFHI is introducing small loans and grants for the private sector to extend micro-loans to poor families who cannot afford loans through other financial organisations. The initiative draws on analysis conducted in 2016, which was documented in a series of reports that are available on the Cities Alliance website.
Ensuring continuity amid political transition
The Cities Alliance missions occurred during a time of political transition for Liberia. In March 2018, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) – which was set up in 2003 to monitor a ceasefire agreement following the end of the second Liberian Civil War – is leaving the country after 15 years. Its departure means a transition from peace-keeping to development, and from emergency funds to development. The fragile Liberian economy is taking a big hit from the departure of UNMIL, especially Monrovia, which has depended on foreign aid.
In addition, elections at the end of 2017 ushered in a new pro-poor government under President George Weah, marking Liberia’s first peaceful transition in 73 years. The Cities Alliance team has focused on engaging with the new government to provide continuity for the Country Programme.
Watch: Cities Alliance Conducts Project Oversight in Liberia
The Liberia Country Programme has already leveraged US$ 7 million in funding from the EU, expanding the programme's scope.