Liberia

1995 - 1999

WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN LIBERIA

USAID/OTI’s Liberia program began in 1996 following years of brutal conflict that left 200,000 dead and 40 percent of the population displaced. After 13 failed peace accords and nearly $1 billion in humanitarian assistance from the United States, Liberian warlords agreed to a ceasefire and a national election that brought Charles Taylor to power in 1997.

USAID/OTI'S ROLE IN LIBERIA

Because institutional capacity and physical infrastructure were severely diminished, USAID/OTI moved quickly to enhance stability and democratic processes by:

  • Supporting the demobilization and reintegration of ex-fighters through quick, temporary employment opportunities;
  • Creating alternative news outlets and supporting dissemination of objective information; and
  • Supporting economic reform efforts.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • Immediately following demobilization, USAID/OTI funded civil reconstruction teams, which provided temporary jobs for approximately 10,000 ex-fighters. Job activities included clearing or repairing urban and rural roads and refurbishing schools and clinics. These employment opportunities helped keep ex-fighters productively engaged in the reconstruction process while other Liberian citizens were able to feel more secure.
  • USAID/OTI initiated media activities in Liberia in 1997 when it co-funded STAR Radio with USAID’s Africa Bureau. STAR Radio was created as a new independent shortwave and FM radio station serving all of Liberia and the border regions. A respected source of information for all Liberians, it raised standards of news reporting and become an important test-case for freedom of the press. After closing the radio station in 1998, the Liberian government allowed it back on the air in response to pressure from Liberian civic organizations, the donor community and the U.S. Embassy.

2004 - 2006

WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN LIBERIA

In February 2004,USAID/OTI launched a series of political transition programs aimed at good governance, human rights, transitional justice and community reintegration in support of the 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. These programs helped contribute to the positive momentum that ushered in a successful U.N. peacekeeping force, the massive return of refugees and internally displaced persons, the end of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, and the free and fair election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first female Head of State in Africa.

USAID/OTI’S ROLE IN LIBERIA

To enhance stability, promote a smooth transition to peace and democratic governance and support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, USAID/OTI’s Liberian Transition Initiative focused on four main objectives:

  • Promoting good governance and transparency;
  • Encouraging the development of an independent media;
  • Supporting human rights and transitional justice initiatives; and
  • Promoting community reintegration and reconciliation.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • USAID/OTI supported Youth Education for Life Skills (YES) program, a community-focused reintegration activity with the goal of enhancing peace through non-formal education. It helped youth, one of the largest and most war-affected populations of Liberia, become productive members of their communities.
  • USAID/OTI supported Inter School Sports Association (ISSA) of Monrovia, providing 320 soccer balls, 60 basketballs, 160 pumps and 12 soccer nets to 158 public high schools in greater Monrovia. The grant, which received specific praise from the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, provided a springboard to gain access to public high school students and provide safe and healthy alternative activities.

2006 - 2007

WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN LIBERIA

Following the end of its Liberian Transition Initiative (2004-2006), USAID/OTI launched the Building Recovery and Reform through Democratic Governance (BRDG) initiative in September 2006. Although Liberia had moved beyond the transitional government at the commencement of the BRDG program, the political situation necessitated continued assistance due to the acute deterioration of government systems and the steady decline of human resource capacity caused by widespread and intermittent civil war that swept the country for over 14 years.

USAID/OTI'S ROLE IN LIBERIA

The BRDG program implemented activities to assist the Government of Liberia gain traction and consolidate legitimacy as it confronted the formidable challenges of national transformation. The three specific objectives of the BRDG initiative included:

  • Assisting the Government of Liberia and other key actors to improve capacity in such areas as effective planning, budgeting, communication and coordination with relevant counterparts;
  • Assisting the Government of Liberia and other key actors to mount effective political responses to high-visibility issues; and
  • Supporting regional activities aimed at strengthening the Mano River Union.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • USAID/OTI initiated funding for Talking Drum Studio and STAR Radio, two media outlets that became respected sources of information. STAR Radio frequently tested the limits of freedom of the press, winning numerous battles with the government to stay on the air. Talking Drum Studio produced civic education and reconciliation programs as well as community drama shows that aired on eight Liberian radio stations.
  • BRDG worked with the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) to monitor the performance of the members of the House of the Representatives and the Senate. JPC collected data on each member’s attendance, punctuality and visits to constituents, and kept a tally of bills introduced. JPC issued a cumulative report, and the “report card” was broadcast in 11 counties via STAR Radio’s six affiliate stations and 19 community radio stations. In addition, STAR Radio distributed the legislative report cards to all 15 of Liberia’s counties. JPC also worked with TV stations to record the national legislature and broadcast the proceedings in one-hour sessions twice a week. The high level of public interest generated by the report cards and the media coverage prompted legislators to improve their attendance and pay greater attention to their behavior in the parliament.
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Last updated: December 01, 2017

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