AT WORK TOGETHER
United Nations in Liberia
The Newsletter of the UN in Liberia
October 2008 Issue 2
In Liberia, the United Nations is represented by the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), as well as 16 specialized agencies, funds, pro-
grammes, and the World Bank. All UN programmes in Liberia are aligned with the national Poverty Reduction Strategy. Initiatives
are underway in each of the Government's four pillars: enhancing national security; revitalizing the economy; strengthening gover-
nance and rule of law; and rehabilitating infrastructure and basic social services.
Food price hike hits hard in Liberia
The recent rise of world food prices has significantly affected a large portion of the population in Liberia, especially the
urban poor. Results from a quick assessment carried out in July 2008 by the World Food Programme shows that the rate
of severely food insecure households in greater Monrovia alone rose to 8 percent, a 4 percent hike from a year and a half
“The four percent hike is a significant increase as it represents an
additional 7,000 plus households with about 48,000 family mem-
bers who can afford little better than a diet very low in protein,” says
Louis Imbleau, WFP Representative in Liberia.
The report finds that the price of a 50 kg bag of butter rice (the
cheapest and most consumed) has increased by 40 percent since
the beginning of 2008.
“Most of Monrovia’s poor face an even higher price because they
can ill afford to buy a bag at a time and have to buy by the cup.
Many are only able to purchase a few cups at a time,” says Sayba
Tamba, a WFP food security analyst who helped lead the assess-
It is estimated that another 40,000 households, or about a quarter
of a million people across Monrovia, have reduced the quality and
the frequency of their food intake in the past year and a half.
The United Nations has been working with the Government of
Children are amongst those most affected by the food price hikes
Liberia in trying to blunt the effects of the price hikes on Liberia’s
most vulnerable, including children. The UN has been supporting the government through food-safety-net programmes
and initiatives to increase local food production, as part of a Joint Programme on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN).
WFP has reintroduced urban school feeding in Monrovia for academic year 2008/09, expanded Mother and Child Health
(MCH) feeding as well as supplementary and therapeutic feeding of malnourished children. Over 200,000 people benefit
from this initiative, including 150,000 poor urban children who benefit from the daily school feeding programme.
The United Nations is supporting government efforts through a wide range of other interventions. The UN Children’s Fund
(UNICEF) is working to ensure that children, especially those under the age of five continue to be fed appropriately and
adequately, identify and treat those with acute malnutrition at facility and community level and improving access to water
and sanitation in identified communities across the country.
‘At work together’ takes on new meaning in Liberia Five projects approved under UN Peacebuilding Fund
In this Issue
Liberian children take the lead on International Peace Day Accelerated Learning Programme goes nation-wide
The World Heath Organisation (WHO) is working on a nutrition policy framework and guidelines; the Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO) is purchasing and distributing rice seeds to farmers across all counties, and working with the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the construction of technology transfer centres including storage and pro-
cessing plants, multiplication of improved varieties of rice and cassava, capacity building of agricultural officials and farm-
ers in the counties and promotion of livestock breeding. WFP has planned to provide school meals for 450,000 school chil-
dren and take-home rations for 15,500 girls, food-for-work support for 8,100 people, food-for-training for 1,306 people, and
provision of monthly food rations for a number of vulnerable groups including HIV/AIDS and TB sufferers. UNDP will also
construct markets and farm-to-market roads while the World Bank will supply post-harvest infrastructure such as local stor-
age facilities, and basic processing equipment.
The study also found that rural populations were slightly less affected by price increases than those living in urban areas
as they have a higher reliance on their own food production. However, all rural livelihood groups were noted to be resort-
ing to various coping strategies in the face of higher prices, in particular eating less preferred food, and substituting rice
‘At work together’ takes on new meaning in Liberia
The United Nations in Liberia likes to say that it is “At Work Together”. The UN presence comprises both the UN Country
Team – consisting of 16 agencies, funds and programmes – as well as the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The entire UN
family is committed to find innovative methods to tackle the serious challenges confronting the Liberian peoples as they
emerge from the devastation of 14 years of civil
The UN team in Liberia is acutely aware of the
need for constant improvement. With a focus on
strengthening collaboration, senior staff of the
UNCT and UNMIL held a retreat on 25-26
September in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.
Reaching out to learn from others experience,
the retreat benefited from the presence of staff
from the United Nations Integrated Office in
Chaired by the Special Representative of the UN
Secretary-General, Ellen Margrethe Løj, the
meeting agreed on a set of 10 recommenda-
tions. These focused from practical ideas to
improve joint mechanisms and work plans at the
national and field level, to a commitment to
strengthen communications efforts. The UN fam-
ily agreed to catalogue the UN’s resources in the
field in an effort to avoid duplication and build
collective strength in support of the national
Senior UN officials at discussions during the retreat
Poverty Reduction Strategy. These recommen-
dations are in line with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s call for improved integration among UN entities.
“In Liberia we already see the results of a pragmatic approach to cooperation. The UN family knows that as we deepen
the commitment to integration, we will better support the government and people of Liberia in their quest for peace and
development,” says SRSG Løj.
The UN in Liberia had previously launched the County Support Team concept that draws the UN together in each of
Liberia’s 15 counties. Participants at the retreat focused on how best to strengthen and improve these existing joint field
coordination structures. The UN entities agreed to develop joint county-based work plans, hold regular coordination meet-
ings and consolidate reporting. It is proposed that a single focal point head up common UN County Offices.
“The UN in Liberia can be proud of its many accomplishments, even as the retreat points the way forward. As the UN joins
around common goals, there is no limit to what we can achieve for the benefit of the Liberian people. Simply put, we are
stronger and more effective “At Work Together”, says Jordan Ryan, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-
General and UN Resident Coordinator.
For the longer term, a decision was also made to form an Integrated Transition Design Team (ITDT). The ITDT will be
responsible for drafting a road map that ensures a smooth transition during the mission draw down phase, when agencies
will step up programming to ensure continued UN assistance to the Government and people of Liberia.
October 2008 - 2
The Newsletter of the UN in Liberia
Five projects approved under UN Peacebuilding Fund
The Joint Steering Committee (JSC) of the
Liberia Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) has
approved five projects, estimated to cost
US$ 5 million to help accelerate and solid-
ify the peacebuilding process in Liberia.
The approved projects are expected to
commence shortly, with implementation
being carried out by government institu-
tions and several non-governmental organ-
izations (NGOs), with oversight being pro-
vided by recipient UN Agencies. The fund-
ing for the five projects is being channelled
through United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), United Nations High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and
United Nations Education, Scientific and
Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The recently approved projects cover a
wide range of activities ranging from,
strengthening the Rule of Law; c
One project will provide intensive agricultural training for ex-combatants
Establishment of a Peacebuilding Office in
the Ministry of Internal Affairs; Community Empowerment through a Peace, Human Rights, and Civic Participation pro-
gramme; an Agriculture training programme for ex-combatants; to implementation of peace, human rights and citizenship
education in the school system in Liberia. Separately, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was provided two vehicles under the
fast-track interventions of the Liberia PBF in early September for outreach work to end violence sorrounding land disputes
in Grand Bassa and Maryland Counties.
The establishment of a Peacebuilding Fund office in the Ministry of Internal Affairs is intended to support the government’s
conflict sensitive approach to peacebuilding opportunities identified under the Poverty Reduction Strategy for Liberia. It will
also function as the secretariat for the Liberia Peacebuilding Fund. The community empowerment project will be imple-
mented by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in Grand Gedeh, Lofa and Nimba counties, using a non-formal,
community-based peace education programme to help them address problems related to poor leadership and misuse of
power. Landmine Action, together with several other agencies and NGOs, will implement the intensive agriculture training
and social reintegration programme for mostly relocated ex-combatants. The Carter Centre will work in eight counties with
numerous other agencies under the human rights and civic participation project, educating communities about their rights
and obligations under the legal system as well as developing capacity through the establishment of transitional mecha-
nisms for community legal advisors. The Ministry of Education with UNESCO will train teachers in three counties and set
up support mechanisms at national and local levels and build knowledge on peace, human rights and citizenship, toward
creating conflict resolutions skills and promoting peaceful coexistence.
Several other projects are under review for funding from the remaining funds approved for Liberia under the “Second
Window” of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). In October 2007, The UN Secretary-General declared Liberia
eligible for the peacebuilding fund and by January 2008, US$ 15 million was approved and allocated from the UN PBF to
support specific peacebuilding interventions within the context of Liberia’s national development process.
Ex-combatants galvanize waste management in Liberia
A group of 200 ex-combatants from Liberia’s civil war are now at the forefront of the country’s waste management pro-
gramme. Once bearing arms and fighting for numerous factions, they are now sitting down in a classroom to learn meth-
ods of reducing, recycling and disposing solid waste in the country.
The 200 ex-combatants ranging in age from 15 to 50 are part of a larger programme initiated by the National Commission
on Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (NCDDRR). The waste management training compo-
nent of the overall programme is being supported and run by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The trainees are divided into four batches of fifty each and are taught a wide range of garbage and solid waste disposal
methods during six weeks of intensive training. The youngest trainee, who now attends schools joins the team after school
October 2008 - 3
The Newsletter of the UN in Liberia
hours. During the first four weeks, they learn the
theoretical aspects of collecting and transporting
waste, raising awareness and community sensi-
tization, and on how to build garbage bins for
compost. They are then deployed in identified
communities across the capital Monrovia for
practical work in raising awareness about the
need for proper garbage disposal, as well as site
visits to garbage disposal facilities to learn how
to dispose of solid waste.
Training on how to build and use the compost
bins is meant to help them set up self-employ-
ment projects and earn an income from building
the bins for sale. On completion of the training
programme, IOM provides the trainees with tool
kits to enable them to start off small scale enter-
Following the six weeks training, they are then
integrated into ministries, and government agen-
cies for practical work. Around 43 of those
trained in the first batch are now deployed at the
Ministry of Agriculture, Liberia Water and Sewer
Corporation, Monrovia City Corporation and the
Forest Development Authority.
The IOM project provides training in solid waste management
Innovative project enables Liberian youth to drive
reconstruction and development effort
An innovative project by the United Nations is helping dozens of Liberian youth get involved in reconstruction and devel-
opment projects. Under the project, over sixty youth volunteers were trained and deployed to work in the health and edu-
cation sectors in four counties in Liberia.
The sixty seven youth who formed the first batch of recruits under the newly formed National Youth Volunteer Service
(NYVS) Programme first underwent a rigorous training schedule covering various subjects that included HIV/AIDS aware-
ness, peace building and the MDGs. They were drawn from a pool of 100 university graduates who applied for the pro-
gramme. The NYVS was launched in September 2007 by the Government of Liberia with the support of the United Nations
Volunteers (UNV) Programme and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
National youth volunteers were assigned to Lofa, Bong, Grand Gedeh and Maryland to work in the areas of Health and
Education. They were attached to government health institutions and schools. The volunteers were involved in creating
awareness in the areas of hygiene, Millennium Development Goals, peace building, poverty reduction strategy, HIV/AIDS,
malaria and the national youth policy framework.
Many of the volunteers also worked with communities on several sustainable development projects, even mobilizing com-
munities to construct additional classrooms and increase school enrollment.
“The positive impact of the programme is already evident in communities across the counties. We have received addition-
al requests for recruits to the Ministries of Public Works, Gender and Development and Youth and Sports,” says UNDP
Project Manager Aminu Waziri.
The government in October 2008 called for applications for the second batch of recruits under the NYVS programme. Once
trained they are expected to be deployed in ministries and institutions within the selected counties.
The government is hoping to recruit 100 additional volunteers in the next phase and extend the programme from four to
eight other counties in 2009. It hopes to also open applications to high school graduates, expanding the scope for Liberian
youth to take part in the volunteer programme.
October 2008 - 4
The Newsletter of the UN in Liberia
Thousands of people benefit from community development
projects with a difference
Thousands of Liberians from across all of the fifteen
counties are benefitting from community development
projects that were initiated following the handover of arms
left over from the war in the country. Under the Arms for
Development project which commenced in 2005, the
United Nations has initiated over a dozen development
projects for communities that find, or handover hidden
caches of arms that were used during the war.
“It is an unusual approach to development. But it is bear-
ing results,” says Napolean Abdulai, from the United
Nations Development Programme’s Community Security
and Social Cohesion Project.
Five hundred rifles, over one hundred thousand rounds of
assorted ammunition, magazines and cartridges, as well
as over one thousand five hundred explosive devices
have already been handed over by communities.
“The result is that it takes that many weapons out of cir-
Communities hand over arms and amunition under the arms for development project
culation. It drives home the message that bearing arms is
not the way to achieve development,” adds Abdulai.
The UNDP project is being implemented in collaboration with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the Liberian National
Police, Liberia National Commission on Small Arms and other partners.
Development projects that have been implemented under the UNDP programme include construction of schools, health
clinics, administrative buildings and community guest houses, including one livelihoods support project. Eight such proj-
ects have already been implemented across six counties. Three projects are ongoing and several others are planned.
Communities are still handing over arms and ammunition, found when excavating for wells, or while tilling fields. Explosive
remnants of war are also the cause of injuries amongst children.
“The security of the Liberian people is a paramount concern to the international community. We will continue to work with
communities, raising awareness and encouraging the voluntary handover of arms to promote economic development,”
says Dominic Sam, Country Director of UNDP.
Liberian children take the lead on International Peace Day
Children in Liberia took the lead in events organised
around International Day of Peace, celebrated on 21
September. Fifteen school children and students of the
University of Liberia participated in a live video link-up
discussion on peace and human rights, with counterparts
in the United States, Afghanistan and Sudan. Also taking
part in the discussions were UN peace ambassadors
Michael Douglas, Japanese Musician Midori, primatolo-
gist Jane Goodall and writer Elie Weisel. The Liberian
students and young adults performed a skit titled ‘Mama
Liberia’ - a conversation between ‘Mama Liberia’, ‘War’
and ‘Peace’. At the end, all the children sang the Liberian
Fifteen Liberian children were also invited to take part in
a video workshop organised by UNMIL Public Information
and UNICEF. Working in pairs, they made short films
Children perfom a traditional dance to mark International Day of Peace delivering messages of peace to world leaders. Their
films were then posted on CNN’s iReport website.
October 2008 - 5
The Newsletter of the UN in Liberia
The official programme in Liberia was held at the forecourt of the Pan African Plaza, the headquarters of the UN Mission
in Liberia (UNMIL). It was attended by Vice-President Joseph Boakai, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General
(SRSG) Ellen Margrethe Løj, Deputy Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, government officials, diplomats
and hundreds of UN staff from UNMIL and UN agencies in Liberia. A tree was planted by the Vice-President and SRSG to
mark the day, where the statement of the Secretary-General emphasizing the importance of human rights to peace, was
“Too many people around the world still have their rights violated - especially during and after armed conflict. That is why
we must ensure that the rights in the Declaration are a living reality - that they are known, understood and enjoyed by
everyone, everywhere," the Secretary-General said.
Separately, UNMIL and non-governmental organisation Right to Play organised a Peace Day football tournament, where
the national amputee football team, the Lonestars, took on the Allstars, a newly-formed team. The Lonestars won the game
five goals to four.
Leadership training programme launched for
County and Development Superintendants
The Government and UN in Liberia launched a leadership training programme for County and Development
Superintendants in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County on 13 October 2008. Fourteen of the fifteen County Superintendants
as well as 14 Development Superintendants took part in the week long training programme.
The training aims to build the capacity of County Superintendants to involve communities in identifying development pri-
orities, plan and implement development projects in their respective administrative areas as well as gathering information
and reporting on their progress. It also provides leaders with tools and skills related to the implementation of the govern-
ment’s poverty reduction strategy (PRS) and County Development Agendas (CDAs).The training aspect of the project is
being carried out by UN-HABITAT under the UN’s County Support Teams project.
The County Support Teams were set up by the UN to support County level administrators. The broader CST project pro-
vides on-the-ground UN presence that works alongside local government authorities.
“This initiative fits into the UN’s aim of building capacity of the Liberian government at all levels, to enable national and
local administration to carry out effective development work for the benefit of the people of Liberia,” says Jordan Ryan, the
Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and UN Resident Coordinator in Liberia.
The training is jointly organized by UN-HABITAT, UNMIL, UNDP, Liberia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Liberia Institute
of Public Administration under the theme “Recovery Through Enhanced Local Leadership and Governance.” It is being
supported by the County Support Teams and funded by SIDA.
UN calls for more donor support to Liberia’s
County Development Agendas
The United Nations Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UN Resident Coordinator Jordan Ryan
has called on development partners to provide more support to Liberia through the recently concluded County
Development Agendas (CDAs). He also urged donors to harmonize interventions in order to foster greater alignment and
The CDAs incorporate plans and projects formulated through a consultative grassroots level process carried out across
Liberia. They include improvement to roads, education facilities and clinics.
The CDAs are a development pact - an agenda between the people and the government. Implementing and monitoring
the agendas would require the participation of all citizens,” said Liberian President H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, at the
The launch of the CDAs coincided with a visit by a number of development ministers from donor countries who attended
October 2008 - 6
The Newsletter of the UN in Liberia
a special session of the Liberia Reconstruction and Development Committee, convened by President Johnson Sirleaf on
the theme “Aid Effectiveness in Post-Conflict and Fragile States.”
“This truly is a process by which the country’s
development agenda reflects priorities set by its
citizens, priorities that will benefit the average citi-
zen in his or her daily life,” says Ryan.
“Communities need to be engaged in monitoring
progress to see to it that the bridges, clinics and
schools they prioritized are on course,” he adds.
The process entailed 132 district consultations
between June 2007 and February 2008, as well as
workshops across the country. During the consul-
tations, thousand of people from a cross section of
communities in Liberia provided input and feed-
back on what they saw as development priorities.
The United Nations, comprising several agencies
and the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), assisted in
organising and conducting the consultations
across all of the districts of the country.
Roads and other infrastructure will be developed under the CDA process
Accelerated Learning Programme goes nation-wide
The Government of Liberia, with support from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has included an additional 80 schools
from Sinoe, River Cess, Grand Bassa and Margibi Counties to its Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP), establishing
the innovative condensed learning programme across all of the country’s fifteen counties. The ALP condenses the usual
six required years for graduation to elementary school, into three, enabling those who missed out on schooling during the
conflict to catch up on their education.
“The number of schools under the ALP project will now increase to 764. Three hundred and forty five, or almost half the
total number of schools are being supported by UNICEF through the Ministry of Education,” says Alphonso M. Sheriff,
National Coordinator for ALP in Liberia.
Decades of conflict have devastated Liberia’s formal public educational system and created the need for non – formal,
accelerated learning opportunities for older children; especially former child soldiers.
A ten-day ‘training of trainers’ workshop was held in late September in Grand Bassa County for 46 participants, comprised
of principals and teachers of selected schools. The newly trained ‘master trainers’ will train teachers selected for the ALP
project in the four recently selected counties.
“I am very happy that the ALP program is now in Sinoe
County. The enthusiasm in Sinoe about the ALP pro-
gramme is quite high. Many districts are asking that the
programme be implemented in their schools,” says
Mike S. Naklin, Principal of Sinoe High School, and a
participant at the workshop.
The ALP, led by the Ministry of Education with support
from a number of International Organizations, is part of
a broader effort at restoring Liberia’s educational sys-
tem and providing the opportunity to catch up with
At present, 134,317 students between the ages of 8
and 18 benefit from the programme.
A student takes part in the accelarated learning programme
October 2008 - 7
The Newsletter of the UN in Liberia
• The United Nations in Liberia held a two day workshop on 30-31 October in Voinjama with the objective of identifying a
common vision for UN joint support programmes in Lofa county. The focus was on current and proposed activities that
could be effectively integrated for better impact in the longer term, with all UN agencies working together in identified sec-
tors. At the workshop, it was decided that all agencies would focus on joint programmes for youth in the first phase.
Capacity building/training, HIV/AIDS and Peacebuilding were identified as other areas in which joint programming will take
place, based on the CDAs. Representatives from WHO, UNMIL, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP, FAO, UNDP, ILO and the
Resident Coordinator's office attended the meeting.
• On 21 September, a group of 293 Liberian refugees arrived at the border post at Toe Town in Grand Gedeh County
aboard seven buses in the first organized road convoy of returnees from Ghana. Two trucks accompanied the convoy, car-
rying luggage belonging to the returning refugees. The road convoy was the first under a tri-partite agreement signed
between the Governments of Liberia and Ghana, and UNHCR. UNHCR and the Liberian Refugee Repatriation and
Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) facilitated the return, while UN Police (UNPOL) and UNMIL provided security to the
convoy. Similar convoys are expected to arrive late October and in November 2008.
• A graduation ceremony was held on 3 October 2008, for 139 recruits to the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberian
National Police. Recruits underwent a rigorous eight months training programme prior to graduation. The unit will respond
to emergencies, deal with crime situations, including arrest of armed criminals, hostage situations, terrorism and riot con-
trol. The ERU is expected to have a total of 500 personnel by June 2009.
• A special new criminal court has been set up by the Government of Liberia, with the support of the UN Population Fund
(UNFPA) to be directly responsible for handling cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Monrovia. It will
conduct in-camera trials involving rape cases, allowing for protection of identity of the victim and the witnesses, in accor-
dance with international standards.
• A total of 294 patients with various types and degree of fistula have been attended to under a joint project between the
Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and UNFPA. 140 of them were operated on in 2008.
• Several events were held on 24 October to mark UN Day 2008. They included the official flag raising ceremony, march
by school children, visits to schools by UN personnel, an international festival and a UN sports day.
• The UN recommenced broadcast of the Periscope radio programme in October. It airs every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
on UNMIL radio.
• Impact of High Prices on Food Security in Liberia – a study released by WFP. For more information contact Aaron Aleh
• Towards decent work in Liberia – an assessment on the labour market and employment by the International Labour
Office and the Ministry of Labour. For more information contact
Peter Hall at email@example.com Upcoming events
• On October 20th, The Ministry of Gender and Development, Visit by team organizing Mano River Union Youth
ISIS- Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange(ISIS- Peace Games/Symposium – 11 -13 November
WICCE) and Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET)
Liberia, launched a joint report, "A Situation Analysis of the Common Services Training – 11-13 November
Women Survivors of the 1989-2003 Conflict in Liberia". The
report, conducted in April 2008, focused on war-time experiences UNDAF review – 26 November
and current needs of women in Bong, Lofa, Maryland and Grand
Kru counties. The primary goal of the report is to provide evi- World AIDS Day - 1 December
dence-based guidance to policy and decision-makers, human
rights activists, humanitarian agencies, the international commu- Visit of FAO Director-General - 1st week of
nity and other stakeholders. December
For submissions to this newsletter, please contact the Communications Officer at the respective agency, or
George Somerwill, Chair of the UN Communications Group - Somerwill@un.org
Rukshan Ratnam, Communications Officer at the Resident Coordinator’s Office - Rukshan.Ratnam@undp.org
October 2008 - 8
The Newsletter of the UN in Liberia
United Nations Day 2008
Winners of the UN Sports Day Events
October 2008 - 9
The Newsletter of the UN in Liberia