A Liberian Civil Society Organization, Volunteers To Support International Efforts In Developing Africa (VOSIEDA) on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 launched what it termed as “Forest Hour” radio advocacy program. Journalist Alaskai Moore Johnson of Front Page Africa served as Chief Launcher of the radio program on behalf of the President of the Press Union of Liberia, Mr. Charles Cuffey.
The radio advocacy platform was launched under the European Union Non State Actors sponsor (EU-NSA) project, “Strengthening the capacity of non-state actors (NSA) to improve FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Western Africa”.
The project is being implemented since 216 in three countries, including, Liberia, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. In Liberia, the project is being implemented by the Volunteers to Support International Efforts In Developing Africa (VOSIDA) with support from Tropenbos International (TBI).
Part of its mandate is to help raise forest community voices at national level for stakeholders’ decision. In so doing, the project has launched a radio advocacy initiative intended to raise community voices in need of redress for sustainable forest management. The forest hour radio talk show will be hosted on Okay FM.
Officially launching the program, Journalist Alaskai Moore Johnson said the PUL will stand by civil society in whatever positive endeavor gear toward protecting the forest. At the same time, he said the PUL will also stand by OK FM as it carries out this program.
“The President of the PUL has asked me to let you know that PUL will stand by you in whatever positive endeavor and PUL will also stand by OK FM as it carries out this program,” added Journalist Johnson.
Mr. Johnson however called on the Liberian public to stand up against all acts that are geared towards destroying the forest. The Sub-Editor of FrontPage Africa Newspaper said, the forest is the last bastion of hope for the country, and as such it must be protected by every Liberian.
The radio advocacy program is expected to ignite nation-wide participation, dialogue on forest laws, policies, agreements and practices within the context of Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT).
“The radio talk-show will draw attention to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and other conditions agreed to in the Volunteer Partnership Agreement (VPA) that was signed between the European Union and the Liberian Government to discourage illegal logging and promote transparency and accountability,” an official of the organization is quoted as saying.
Because the forest hour aims to provide alternative national platform to draw stakeholders’ attention to infractions in forested communities, it will be accessible to sector’s experts, legal practitioners, forest structures, including the National Union of Community Forest Development Committee (NUCFDC), National Union of Community Forest Management Body (NUCFMB), Networks, Coalitions and working groups, concern members of the community, relevant government institutions (FDA and others), donors/international partners (EU and others), companies, etc.
These institutions will be given opportunity to discuss issues in relation to forest governance. The radio platform will also be used to discuss research/briefing papers produced by Independent Forest Monitors (IFM), including Global Witness and independent research reports. Particular attention will be paid to noncompliance to social agreements, payment of cubic meter fees, bad labor practices, environmental pollution, and illegalities among others.
The platform will be used as a strategic conduit for information dissemination on issues coming out of the forests. It will as well serve as a support based for the advocacy strategy recently launched by the NGO Coalition of Liberia, a conglomeration of civil society organizations championing transparency and accountability in forest governance.