Reported By: Mellish Gbor/Nimba D-9 TV
Women Empowerment Forum Liberia, a local civil society advocacy group has commenced a series of public awareness and sensitization initiatives on ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Phase –II Expansion project in five communities in Nimba County.
The communities -Ganta , Sanniquellie, Karnplay, Yekepa and Gbapa will for the next one month participate in community town hall meetings for explanation on the benefits of ArcelorMittal’s Phase-II expansion.
This public awareness drive according to WEFL seeks to supply community dwellers especially those directly affected by the company’s mining activities with the much-needed information about the obligations of the concession to its host communities and people of Nimba and Liberia at large.
At a news conference in Ganta over the weekend, Laura Bee Kiekpo, the Executive Director Women Empowerment Forum Liberia said their awareness targets Opinion Leaders, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and ordinary citizens within the three affected communities.
“This one-month activity demonstrates our firm commitment to ensure that we as civil society actors play a role that is key for harmony between the communities and ArcelorMittal” she said
WEFL according to her is conducting the town hall meetings, dialogues, and radio talk shows to strengthen information sharing and to gauge the perspectives of residents on what’s best for an enhanced community and company relationship.
Lura believes Civil society organizations must play multiple roles in community engagement and make themselves available as important sources of information for both citizens and government.
“We have a duty to just monitor government policies and actions and hold government accountable, but we must apply same to companies and supply needed information to communities through advocacy and offer alternative policies for government, the private sector, and other institutions”.
The Executive Director said WEFL’s awareness would also target Women, Men, and youth groups, the student community, businesses, community-based organizations, and all local stakeholders within the affected communities in Nimba County.
Said Laura Bee Kiekpo: “We have accepted to do this given the fact that as a grassroots organization we consider it ideal to ensure that our communities’ dwellers are informed and sensitized of development in their communities and county”.
“WEFL believes when information is accessed from an informed background this can provide the kind of opportunity that brings positive change to communities and households”.
“An informed person is a transformed and developed citizen” she concluded.
Women Empowerment Forum Liberia is a local women/girls led non-for-profit that focuses on the (formal/informal) increase of Education, Rights, Women’s Health, Advocacy, Protection, Prevention, Dignity, Skills, and Socio/Social Economic Empowerment of women /girls in the rural and urban communities of Liberia.
ArcelorMittal Liberia mid 2022 commenced its phase two expansion project with the aim of producing 30 million tons of iron ore per year.
The company’s Phase-II Expansion Projects will witness the construction of a mega ore concentration plant to upgrade its ore quality to higher value.
It also promises the provision of new jobs for Liberians, increase government taxes, royalties, and revenue, and as well give direct support to communities in Grand Bassa, Bong and Nimba counties through the social development funds and more and the company’s own initiatives.
Since its entry into Liberia Mining industry in August 2005, the AML has positioned itself as the country foremost post war investment making the largest social development contribution to host communities annually.
ALM has repeatedly been recognized as the government’s biggest taxpayer while at the same time making enormous contribution to education, health, and infrastructure development in Grand Bassa, Bong and Nimba counties.
Meanwhile, The Executive Director of Women Empowerment Forum Liberia (WEFL) Madame Laura Bee Kiekpo extended condolences to the people of Nimba County Electoral District Eight where at least eight persons lost their lives when a canoe capsized in the Yar River in Zahn Boyee Nimba County