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Country Development Cooperation Strategy

Liberia’s development challenges are deeply rooted. Even before its 14 year civil war, the country’s exclusionary social, political, and economic systems produced “growth without development” – the benefits of which were captured only by a small, privileged elite – and, later, no growth at all. Average income already had been steadily declining before the onset of civil war.

After prolonged stagnation and decline, Liberia descended into chaos. The horrific toll of the 1989‐2003 civil war on human life and welfare was compounded by the wholesale destruction of resources required for recovery and growth. Liberia’s physical infrastructure, productive capacity, and public service delivery systems were demolished. Between the mid‐1980s and the end of the civil war, GDP fell by 90 percent. Nine years after the war, Liberia placed 182 out of 187 countries on the United Nations’ 2011 Human Development Index, and its absolute score was still below the level it had achieved in 1980.

Since the end of the war, Liberia has begun a long climb back. Under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s leadership, it has made progress in restoring peace and security, establishing the legitimacy of democratic institutions, stabilizing macroeconomic conditions, and improving many indicators of basic human needs. USAID, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and other donors have played a critical supporting role – maintaining a strong security presence, re‐building infrastructure, providing basic public services, and filling key management, decision‐ making and other human resources gaps.

Building on these foundations, Liberia is poised to shift its primary focus from short‐term, post‐ conflict stabilization and recovery to dynamic and sustained long‐term development. The successful political transition in 2011 opens an historic window of opportunity to accelerate development progress.

Last updated: September 19, 2018

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