USAID’s development partnership with Liberia dates back to the very founding of the Agency in 1961. As the largest bilateral donor in Liberia, the United States plays an influential and vital role in many aspects of Liberia’s development.
USAID/Liberia strives to ensure that the Agency’s development strategy for Liberia complements and supports the Government of Liberia’s own development vision as articulated in its Agenda for Transformation and other national development strategy documents. In particular, USAID partners with the Government and people of Liberia to address the underlying structural and institutional problems that gave rise to fourteen years of civil strife and war, while at the same time tackling the country’s more immediate development needs and challenges.
USAID’s development strategy in Liberia seeks to attain four objectives:
- More effective, accountable, and inclusive governance
- Sustained market-driven economic growth to reduce poverty
- Better educated Liberians
- Improved health status of Liberians.
Democracy, Rights, & Governance: More effective, accountable, and inclusive governance
Liberia has made important strides towards improving its democratic governance over the last decade, although major challenges remain. There is increasing space for citizens, civil society organizations, and the media to engage in public policy and service delivery, but there are few mechanisms for holding public institutions accountable. Citizens, especially in rural areas, lack widespread access to information, and thus do not have the means to understand and monitor their government. USAID is helping Liberia’s efforts to meet these democratic governance challenges by providing support for, among other things, the transparent and accountable management of public resources, civil service reforms, free and fair elections, the rule of law, domestic resource mobilization, decentralization, stronger civil society organizations, and a more professional media sector.
Economic Growth: Sustained market driven growth to reduce poverty
Liberia continues to face structural impediments to revitalizing its economy. The lack of basic infrastructure—roads, water and electricity supply—makes it exceedingly difficult to attract private sector investment. A poorly developed agricultural sector contributes to food insecurity and extreme poverty, particularly among rural dwellers for whom subsistence farming is the principal source of food and income. USAID/Liberia is working to help spur sustained, market driven growth through cross-cutting initiatives in agriculture and food security, humanitarian/emergency response, infrastructure, including farm-to-market road rehabilitation, energy, workforce development, private sector and financial market development, forestry and natural resource management. USAID’s infrastructure and energy projects contribute to activities supported by the Mission in other sectors.
Education: Better educated Liberians
Liberia is still in the process of rebuilding its educational system destroyed by the civil war. Trained teachers are in short supply and there is a dearth of adequate school facilities and basic supplies. The Ministry of Education (MOE), like many other ministries and government agencies is hobbled by corruption, with payrolls riddled with ghost teachers. USAID’s education programs are designed to help tackle these challenges by, among other things, putting emphasis on improving the quality of teaching and learning (especially in early grade reading and math), and increasing equitable access to learning opportunities for girls and for youth who missed out on education due to the Liberian Civil War. USAID is helping to train teaching and management staff, develop school curricula and policies essential to providing quality basic education services to all Liberians. In the area of higher education, USAID is providing scholarships for engineering and agricultural students at two of Liberia’s leading universities.
Health: Improved health status of Liberians
USAID’s health development programs in Liberia are focused on providing technical and financial support for the implementation of the Ministry of Health’s 10-year Health Policy and Plan (2011-2021) and the national Essential Package of Health Services. At the center of USAID’s programming is a direct financing agreement with the Ministry of Health which supports service delivery in 208 facilities in Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Margibi, Grand Bassa, and Montserrado Counties. USAID also provides technical assistance and support to the Ministry at both the central and county levels to strengthen health system functions including: planning and management, procurement and supply chain management for medicines and health commodities. Additionally, through the Partnership for Advancing Community-based Services activity, USAID supports the delivery of health and social welfare services through community-based institutions, health workers, and volunteers and builds local capacity to implement and manage programs, and improve safe water supply and sanitation. The Mission further supports maternal and child health service delivery at selected facilities in various counties. Family planning and anti-malaria interventions in all 15 Liberian counties are also important features of USAID’s support to Liberia’s Health sector.
Humanitarian Assistance: Helping Liberia Prepare for Emergencies
During their deployment in response to the 2014/2015 Ebola outbreak, USAID staff faced numerous challenges, including limited human resources and capacity at the Ministry of Health and inadequate budget support for the Ministry to take ownership of OFDA programming. Despite these challenges, USAID successfully supported a comprehensive Ebola response that helped Liberia bring the disease under control. USAID is currently supporting Liberia’s capacity to detect and respond to potential Ebola cases through community event-based surveillance activities led by the International Organization for Migration. USAID is also engaged in ongoing community outreach, through NGO partner Mercy Corps, and an epidemic preparedness and response consortium, to bolster residual rapid response capacity.