From STAR Radio:
US Government provides 3.5 million dollars to boost rural education     
Written by Matthias Daffah    
Friday, 22 January 2010 
STAR Radio

The United States Government has provided three point five million dollar support to the school feeding Program in rural Liberia.

The program is implemented by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the World Food Program.

A release issued said the money was provided through a Congressional supplemental approved last year.

It was intended to mitigate the impact of the global financial crisis in a developing country like   Liberia.

The release said the USAID contribution will fund the distribution of an estimated three months of daily cooked meals to more than thirty thousand rural primary school children.

According to the release about half a million dollars will be used to purchase locally-produced rice from smallholder farmers under the P4P initiative.

P4P is the Purchase-for-Progress a local procurement initiative implemented by the WFP in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and partners.

The rice the release said will go towards the school feeding program as take-home food for girls in grades four to six.

The initiative is intended to encourage families keep girls in school.

Robertsport Community Works is looking for an Eco-Tourism and Ecology intern to develop, formalize and promote rainforest walks in the coastal rainforest around Robertsport. A full job description is posted online at
http://www.idealist.org/if/i/en/av/Internship/147344-203.

Thanks for sending this around. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Best,
Elie Losleben
Director of Programs
Robertsport Community Works
077-339-647

CARI is so important to Liberia and beyond.  I thought I would share this article I read at Liberia Natural Resource Issues.

Biting the Hand that Feeds

Liberian Observer (http://www.liberianobserver.com)
By Anonymous
Created Jan 8 2010 – 4:45am

One of the important pillars upon which this government is constructing its Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) is by increasing production in the supply of homegrown crops heavily relied upon for daily consumption and subsistence in Liberia.

This policy is designed to increase production in the agricultural sector. Where successful, increased production will be followed by the building of adequate storage facilities, a marketing strategy and improved road conditions to facilitate rapid farm-to-market activities.

At the end of last year, the President was asked about accomplishments made in her government by her various ministries that had directly improved the lives of the people.

The President readily referred to the strides made in the agricultural sector. There were bumper crops of rice, cassava and of other food groups on which the population depends largely for consumption and for revenue generation.

It goes without saying that apart from rice, the population largely relies upon cassava. In its versatility, it can be boiled and eaten with a variety of sauces, or pounded to make fufu and dumboy. Because of our dependence on cassava as one of the staple foods of the nation, a project designed to promote the cassava industry is being carried out at the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) in Suakoko, Bong County.

Several varieties of high yielding cassava in an area spanning 16 acres had been planted. The plan was to distribute the sticks to farmers for planting.

Mysteriously, or shall we say, mischievously, elements in Gbarnga torched the area and destroyed the nursery. Fingers are pointing to subsistence farmers, who use the slash-and-burn method to clear their farmlands.

Authorities at CARI and in Gbarnga need to establish a no-go area where squatters cannot enter; those caught within the no-go area should be held for criminal trespass.

The farmers and community dwellers in those areas bordering CARI should be made mindful that the activities of CARI are intended to improve farmers’ agriculture pursuits, and that therefore, they should be cooperating with the effort – not destroying it. Perhaps it has now become imperative for local governments to monitor and or control slash-and-burn operations.

Community dwellers must be conscious that they too have a responsibility to embrace government efforts and promote programs that are intended to make them stand on their own feet.

Any action that is counter-productive to government’s development efforts and programs is akin to biting the hand that feeds you. A continuation is interpreted as sabotage.

In carrying out its programs, government seeks community and individual cooperation in order to meet the common goal of improving life and raising standard which is the expectation of all Liberians.

Copyright Liberian Observer – All Rights Reserved. This article cannot be re-published without the expressed, written consent of the Liberian Observer. Please contact us for more information or to request publishing permission.
Editorial
Copyright 2009 | Liberian Observer Online | http://www.LiberianObserver.com

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This is out of control.

As reported from STAR Radio…

Motorcyclist crushed to death, Health Ministry jeep set ablaze in Nimba     
Written by Matthias Daffah    
Friday, 04 December 2009 
STAR RADIO

A motorcyclist died instantly when his bike collided head on with a Health Ministry Land Cruiser   jeep in Ganta, Nimba County.

The jeep which was heading for Southeastern Grand Gedeh County was trying to overtake a truck when it ran into the motorcycle.

The motorcyclist has been identified only as Sunny Boy.

According to our correspondent, a female rider also sustained serious wounds.

Our correspondent says minutes after the collision, angry crowds believed to be motorcyclists stormed the scene of the accident and set the jeep ablaze.

As the angry crowds attacked, the driver and other occupants reportedly fled into the bush for fear of their lives.

The burnt Toyota Land Cruiser jeep was reportedly loaded with medical supplies and other personal belongings.

Editorial Comment from the Liberian Observer……

 

Let Community Radio Stations Operate Freely
Liberian Observer
By Anonymous
Created Nov 17 2009 – 1:50am

Running a community radio station in remote parts of this country is not an easy undertaking. For this reason, those who carry out the work of keeping the people abreast with current events in their communities deserve a lot of credit for their magnificent efforts. They should not even allow fire to stop them.

A recent report from River Gee County’s provisional capital of Fish Town that politicians were bent on meddling in the affairs of a community radio station there is not only regrettable but also unwelcome and disappointing. At a time when many Liberians have gained some consciousness about their rights in the society, it is high time certain people disengage themselves from misinformation. We join a female advocate in the county in urging the staff of the station to apply professional ethics and shun all attempts by individuals to meddle in the operations of the station.

Instead of trying to obstruct smooth operations at the station, local politicians of River Gee County should facilitate and support the independence of the radio station. The impediments to running private radio stations in Liberia are many. The economic environment is not favorable. We do not have a large commercial base to support a strong radio station, especially in rural areas. The advertising income is very low for a radio station to meet all its requirements, pay reasonable salaries and other expenses to keep the radio station going. One has to engage in calculus every day to meet the financial requirements of the moment. That is not easy. What is sad is that some of those in authority do not see this or simply do not care.

Community dwellers should be helping to make the environment more conducive for the running of radio stations rather than creating conditions that undermine the operations of such stations. It requires a lot of commitment and sacrifice of personal resources to run a radio station. The balance sheet of community radio stations is nothing to write home about. Even when some semblance of profit surfaces, it quickly disappears because it is ploughed back into meeting a chain of pending issues and challenges.

We know that media institutions in the past had encountered a myriad of legal impediments from past governments. That’s why any hint of interference or threat from a government official causes so much panic at media houses even now.

It must be made clear that people who run media houses are not cowards. It is only because authorities have arrogated unto themselves so much power that they feel they can cow the media into submission. They do this with the sole purpose of boosting their political stakes.

The River Gee community radio broadcasters are determined to operate in an atmosphere of freedom if a conducive environment is created. The citizens there owe a debt of gratitude to the broadcasters for the effort they are making to maintain the station. And that debt can be repaid not with cash but by ensuring that a conducive environment is put in place for the efficient, effective and orderly operations of the station. Like UNMIL and the International Alert, the local authority needs to milk the station with resources and not just remotely control it as they are doing. This is because they and the citizens are the beneficiaries and not the journalists alone.

We think that what the community radio broadcasters are doing is of great importance for the future of a country filled with people who are poor, hungry, traumatized and suffering.

It would actually be a relief if local authorities would subsidize a station that is rendering a public service, to which the politicians should make a contribution. It is therefore their collective duty to push the government to ensure that the station operates with objectivity and fairness and not try to impose more repressive, media-unfriendly policies.

Copyright 2009 Liberian Observer Online

In the News…
Lofa Business Community: Nightmare in Paradise
Daily Observer
Publication Date: November 14, 2009 – 7:14am
Updated: November 14, 2009 – 3:29pm

[photo: Madam Massa Harleyson’s Used Clothes Center in Voinjama]

Road Network: Challenges, Trends, Problems & Prospects
By:
Edwin M. Fayia III in Voinjama, Lofa County

VOINJAMA – The general consensus in the business community in Lofa County can be summed up in a simple phrase, “Nightmare in Paradise,” owing to the deplorable conditions of that county’s highways and farm-to-market roads.

The challenges of doing genuine business in Lofa County are enormous, especially as regards access to good roads to effective delivery of goods and services to end users, the citizens and residents.

Trends in the Liberian business arena have taken a positive turn with the opening of many foreign and Liberian-owned businesses in the form of small-holder enterprises and service-oriented endeavors. For example, the petroleum sector is dominated by Liberians, especially by the nation’s precious jewels, the younger generation of Liberian youth.

There is no shortage of this essential and highly needed commodity, despite the huge road network challenges in conveying it to the provincial capital of Voinjama in Lofa County, owing to the deplorable nature of the major highways and farm-to-market roads.

However, players in the petroleum sector point out that the profit margin on the commodity is small and therefore needs maximum support and economic empowerment in the form of loans and micro-finance assistance, especially to small Liberian businesses in rural Liberia.

The local petroleum dealers also intimated that the problems associated with the business ranged from trust and confidence from large foreign and Liberian business people, especially the extension of credit and delivery assistance to small businesses operating in rural Liberia.

Another crucial problem identified by the business community in Lofa was the level of insecurity posed by a suspected band of criminals that continue to terrorize and intimidate residents and businesses, hindering their operations in the seven administrative districts of the county.

As an offshoot of the road predicament, another menace that has compounded the woes of the county’s businesses is the uncontrollable hike in transport fares imposed by commercial drivers and other vital public and private transport service providers to, from and within the county.

Looking forward, however, the Lofa business community expressed optimism in the goodwill of the Liberian Government and other major stakeholders in the greater business community to foster and support Liberian businesses, through which several good policies had translated into practical and concrete instruments over the years in the country.

Notwithstanding, the Lofa business community also sounded a note of caution to the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) to graduate from the age-old way of doing everything in the nation’s capital, Monrovia, and advised that the LCC decentralize its business activities to the benefit of the rural sector of the nation.

They also advised that business organizations established in Monrovia should work out concrete modalities that will include and serve rural businessmen and women, as they are also part and parcel of the greater Liberian economy and society.

There are enterprising young men and women in rural Liberia who have, over the years, worked hard and done business with success stories in both small and large business undertakings in the country.

As banks and other financial institutions are now extending their services to the rural parts of the nation, Liberian and foreign organizations with the requisite instruments, that facilitate the socio-economic empowerment of rural Liberians, should begin to see reason to extend all of their professional services to war-affected communities in the country.

In Zorzor and Voinjama cities in Lofa County, JET Trading Corporation, specialists in building materials, has taken the bull by the horn, establishing two stores in order to reduce and ease the major transportation problem affecting rural Liberians, who continue to yearn for the reconstruction of their broken homes.

Commenting on the risk factors in rural Liberia, the Lofa business community argued that many places in Liberia have hostile and crime-prone environments that discourage potential investors and successful Liberian business people from venturing into rural Liberia.

Taking into consideration the strategic location of Lofa County, which borders Sierra Leone and Guinea-Conakry, the Lofa business community asserted the fact that prospects for fantastic and profitable trade and commerce could not be over-emphasized.

Local business women are also making a significant impact and contribution to the business climate in Voinjama City and other administrative districts in Lofa County.

“Upgrade our roads,” the business women challenged the Liberian Government and the nation’s road network stakeholders. “We will reach the deprived and market-oriented communities in Lofa County.

“Access to rural and urban markets,” the business women added, “is critical to the growth, development and progress of the Liberian economy and a sustainable livelihood for rural Liberians.”

In their closing comments, the Lofa business community noted that the rapidly expanding establishment of large and small foreign businesses was a genuine manifestation of the great prospects of doing business in north-western Liberia.
0Copyright Liberian Observer – All Rights Reserved. This article cannot be re-published without the expressed, written consent of the Liberian Observer. Please contact us for more information or to request publishing permission.

Reported by Gov of Liberia….
Liberians urged to utilize micro-finance as the tool to development
GOL
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The National Program Officer of the United Nations Capital Development Funds (UNCDF) says micro-finance is a tool that can be used to reduce poverty, and achieve economic development.

Madam Angelica Brown said Liberia cannot achieve economic development without vibrant micro-finance institutions which the UNDP and UNCDF have ensured that they are institutionalized.

Madam Brown said UNCDF is committed to empowering micro-finance institutions in their quests to improve the living standard of the Liberian people.

Madam Brown spoke Friday at the end of a five-day micro-finance business planning training workshop, organized by UNDP, and UNCDF in collaboration with the Central Bank of Liberia.

Also speaking, UNDP’s Technical Advisor on micro-finance, Kenyeh Barley, and the chairman of the national micro-finance task force of Liberia, Kollie Tamba, urged the participants to use the knowledge acquired to help improve the country’s financial sector.

The five days training was facilitated by United Nations technical advisor for Lesotho, Christopher Malwadde, and was aimed at equipping the participants with relevant skills to enable them develop and implement strategic business plans using the computer.

It brought together over twenty participants representing various micro-finance institutions in the country.
 
 
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