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Towards the future: What next for Liberia after 20 years of peace?


A carpentry student from the Youth Rising Project, which is helping tackle youth unemployment and empowering the next generation with skills, vocational training and practical jobs. Photo: © UN Liberi

After the civil war, which claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, a comprehensive peace agreement was signed in August 2003 in Accra, Ghana. Since then, Liberia has sustained a period of uninterrupted stability; transforming from one of the most volatile to one of the most peaceful nations in West Africa.

Over the years, this country, where I am proud to serve as UN Resident Coordinator, has made significant strides in its socio-economic development journey. Liberians have demonstrated tremendous resilience, battling the devastating impacts of Ebola and COVID-19, contending with growing inflation, mobilizing grassroots leadership and making slow but sure dents in tackling infant mortality.

Yet to reap the full economic and social benefits of this hard-fought peace a lot more needs to be done.

National poverty levels remain high. Gender and income inequalities are still pronounced, and it is estimated that 57 per cent of school-aged children remain out of school. On top of this, rising costs of commodities following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have added to Liberia’s economic challenges.

Now more than ever, a long-term vision and coordinated plan to forge lasting, sustainable development is needed. Here are some examples of how we, as the UN country team are supporting the government together with our partners.

Data driven decision making

In the digital age, data is an indispensable tool for decision-making and is the baseline for effective development planning. At the end of 2022, our UN country team supported the Government to conduct the first national census in 14 years. This included vital data on the most disadvantaged communities and the factors such as a lack of access to quality healthcare and education, which are leaving them behind.

As the co-chair of the National Steering Committee on National Population and Housing Census, the UN facilitated the entire census exercise from beginning to the end. Along with the ECOWAS Ambassador, in my capacity as the RC, we helped bring together political parties and national statistic institutions to build consensus on the importance of the census for national development planning.

Led by UNFPA, our UN country team provided the needed technical expertise in this endeavour. Our Data Management Officer, in particular, played a vital role in facilitating national efforts in the collection, analysis, and utilization of the census data. 

The robust data systems which we helped establish are already enabling policymakers and development partners make informed choices, monitor progress, and adapt interventions in real-time. This is also forming the basis of Liberia’s new national development plan and an upcoming study on the ‘drivers of inclusive and sustainable development’ led by UNDP and supported by other UN agencies as well as our development partners. The study will provide a common blueprint for Liberia to cross the finish line towards 2030 agenda.

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