Liberia’s Post-War Reconstruction: Why the Country Isn’t Being ‘Beautified’ on the Millions from Foreign Nations/Organizations? …A Case of “Good Intent, Bad Channels”

By Samuel G. Dweh |Freelance Development Journalist |Contacts —+231  (0)886618906/776583266/samuelosophy@yahoo.com/samuelosophy1@gmail.com|

This article ends with recommendations—solution methods

LIBERIA’S POLITICAL SITUATION THAT ENGENDERED A NATIONAL “CRY FOR HELP” TO OTHER NATIONS/INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT BODIES

Africa’s oldest Republic, Liberia, has received the highest volume of post-civil-war-reconstruction-support from the International Donor Community, than any other African Nation that went through a full-scale destructive war. But the Country trails behind each of the other African Countries on post-war development march. Example: Sierra Leone (11 years of civil war: 1991—2001)

What infrastructural picture of post-war Liberia foreign Governments or Headquarters of get from their channels of monies sent for Liberia’s recovery: Developing Faster or developing at a snail pace?

Throughout 13 years (1990-2003), Liberians destroyed most of the infrastructures of their Country with grenades and missiles being launched by all warring factions: National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), led by Charles McAurther Taylor; Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), led by Prince Yomie Johnson; and the National Government, led by President Samuel Kanyon Doe.

Some foreign governments, working through international arms dealers, contributed to destruction of Liberia.

Members of ECOWAS’s Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), which stepped in August, 1990, stopped the destructions, caused some of the destructions with ECOMOG’s “Jet Bomber” focusing exclusively on “enemy faction’s bases” with buildings, national water supply lines, national electrification power source, and modern bridges.

Individual ECOMOG soldiers’ plunder at Liberia’s premiere Seaport—Free Port of Monrovia—during the heat of the war is another kind of ‘destruction’.

A wandering under-20 during that time, I saw ECOMOG soldiers breaking into containers, loading most of the contents (cars, imported clothes, etc.) into parked ECOMOG vehicles, and I watched them loading containers (with looted things) in a Ship to depart for Ghana or Nigeria in the following week.

When I was at At the Tema Port, in Ghana, on October 12, 1990, I (now a refugee) identified some of the containers (being loaded with looted goods by ECOMOG soldiers) being offloaded.

THE CHARLES TAYLOR’S ERA (PRESIDENCY)

The war ended in 2003, six years after the democratic election of Mr. Charles Taylor.

Taiwan was the first post-war President’s first place for help for national reconstruction, since Liberia’s historical partner, America, couldn’t support a Charles Taylor-controlled Liberia. Many other Nations, under America’s spell, ignored Mr. Taylor’s pleads.

Taiwan’s first focus was on Liberia’s International Airport, for renovation. But much of the money given for the project was diverted elsewhere. And the project didn’t reach completion until President Taylor’s unceremonious exit from the Presidency in 2003. President Taylor’s refusal to give authority to a globally powerful Western government on Liberia’s oil wells was a major reason behind the ‘coup’ that flushed him out of the Presidency, according to a Liberian journalist on the President’s media team.

THE ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF’S ERA (PRESIDENCY)

The Presidency of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, successor of Charles Taylor, in 2006, attracted the biggest financial support for Liberia’s post-war reconstruction. All Countries and International Development Organizations, who had abandoned Liberia, because of Charles Taylor’s presence in the Presidency, began rushing in with money. For example, China took up the “infrastructure component” of rebuilding (roads, railways, Airports); America picked “Health and Education” sections; Sweden claimed the “Feeder Roads” component; the United Kingdom (through UKAID or Department for International Development-DFID) selected “Agriculture” and “Environment”; the World Bank and the European Union picked “Electricity”; and African Development Bank went for “Water”, especially for urban centers.

On Education, for example, the Sirleaf’s Government launched the National Reading Campaign in 2013, hugely sponsored by the United States Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

However, the huge monies received by the Government couldn’t bring electricity to majority of homes in the city and other parts of the Country; many public schools couldn’t get chairs (the President later described the nation’s entire education as a “mess”); government’s hospitals continued crying on drugs shortage; and farmers across the country continued crying on absence of seeds (while the Government continued with exporting rice through Indian and Lebanese business people)

Madam Sirleaf exited the Presidency while these problems were still there.

THE GEORGE MANNEH WEAH’S ERA (PRESIDENCY)

The retired footballer, who became Senator in 2014, became Head of State in 2017.

The Weah’s Government met an “almost empty” national revenue cupboard left by the Ellen Sirleaf’s Government, and he wasn’t lucky for ‘over-flowing financial support’ from rich Governments—unlike Madam Sirleaf’s administration.

Nonetheless, the Weah’s Government received some financial support from the American, Chinese, British, French, Italian Governments. The World Bank and African Development Bank helped, too, for what each had come near Madam Ellen Sirleaf’s Government.

However, some of the money was mis-channeled to construction of “personal houses”

REPRESENTATIVES OF FOREIGN HELPERS (COUNTRIES/ORGANIZATIONS) AS “BAD CHANNELS”

Monies to Liberia for its post-war reconstruction are channeled through persons called “representatives” or through a representative body of persons called “Country Office”. Later, these ‘channels’ put on new status: “consultant” or “project evaluator”—holding the power for the sent money to be delivered or returned to the “sender”

On this power, the ‘channel’ of the money would demand a percentage of the total money, which is usually ten percent’ (10%) of the total amount. A project owner’s refusal to the demand means asking for forfeiture of the fund or long delay for its submission.

LOCAL ‘IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS’ AS “BAD CHANNELS” OF DEVELOPMENT FUND

Before sending money to Liberia for development of a sector (education, health, agriculture, etc), the foreign helpers had already picked a Liberian organization to work with.

Investigations have unearthed that majority of foreign development support organizations for post-war Liberia’s reconstruction work through only a local organization whose leader is a member of an international fraternity (professional grouping, religion, or sexual orientation)   the head of the helping group or the group’s representative is part of. For example, the foreign organization will only work with a “homosexual” (gay) as head of the local organization.  This reminds me about a shocking revelation by former Press Union of Liberia (PUL) president, Kamara Abdullai Kamara (now deceased), in 2016 about sexual happenings in the United Nations sector of Liberia. “A Liberian who is open about his or her sexual orientation has a bigger chance of getting a job in or project-related support from the UN sector in Liberia now, than another person who is not a gay or lesbian,” Abdullai lectured me when he was taking me to a five-day program of Liberia’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender) Community. Abdullai had told me he was taking to the program—held at one of Liberia’s Five-Star Hotel—because he wanted me to write about comments and actions I will hear and see from members of the “community” The meeting was sponsored by Diplomatic Missions of Western Nations near Liberia, as well as a couple of International NGO with base in Liberia.

So, selection of project proposal, for example, isn’t based on the “work experience” of the preferred local organization or of the head of the organization.

Where the preferred local organization has limitation on crafting a project proposal to convince the funding organization’s Headquarters, the “Country Office” comes in and structures the proposal.

Now, you’ve got a clue of infrastructural backwardness of Africa’s oldest Republic (politically born on July 26, 1847) and high national ignorance level—in spite of the millions of top International Currencies thrown into the Country by foreign Governments, UN Agencies, and International Non-Governmental Organizations since the return of political normalcy in 2003.

RECOMMENDATIONS

On reconstruction of post-war Liberia, Liberia’s foreign Development Partners should prioritize “demonstrable knowledge” over “fraternal association”.

Individual financially privileged Liberians should support the post-war reconstruction projects by their intellectually equipped but financially handicapped compatriots who couldn’t get help from foreign organizations working on “fraternity basis”

Less-connected Liberians, with the requisite developmental knowledge but not favored by fraternity-obsessed foreign funding sources, and their favored local partner-organizations, should READ EXTENSIVELY to be considered for “sub-contracting” by the favored.

About the Author:
Samuel G. Dweh is a member of the Wedabo ethnic group of Grand Kru County, situated in the South-Eastern part of Liberia. He’s a member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), and President of the Liberia Association of Writers (LAW) He can be reached via: —+231 (0)886618906/776583266/samuelosophy@yahoo.com

 

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About Cholo Brooks 13495 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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