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Charcoal Union Dedicates Modern Latrine in Cape Mount

The latrine                                                     NACUL officials, partners and residents at the program

The National Charcoal Union of Liberia (NACUL), on Thursday, May 4, 2017, dedicated a modern latrine in Weajue, Gola-Konneh District, Grand Cape Mount County.

NACUL undertook the Weajue’s latrine project through the Gola-Konneh District Charcoal Producers Association. NACUL financed the project while members of the Gola-Konneh District Charcoal Producers Association assisted with the labor force.

Started on November 25, 2016, the four-room compartment project is a part of NACUL’s community service program, and it was implemented following series of consultations with residents in Weajue. The residents provided the project site.

Speaking at the dedicatory program, NACUL President, Mr. Richard T. A. Dorbor, said the project is part of the Union’s community service program.

According to Dorbor, NACUL decided to undertake the project through the Gola-Konneh Charcoal Producers Association, a local network, in response to Weajue residents’ appeal for latrine.

Dorbor said the Union solely financed the project, which he estimated at a little over US$3,000.00 (three thousand United States dollars). He then urged residents to ensure the proper maintenance of the latrine.

Also in separate remarks, Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Technical Manager, Mr. Joseph Tally, Region #I Forester, Mrs. Ruth Varney and Commercial Department Coordinator, Mr. William Pewu, praised NACUL for undertaking such an initiative on its own.

Delivering an official statement on behalf of FDA Managing Director, Mr. Tally reaffirmed his institution’s commitment to supporting NACUL in its drive to sustainable charcoal production, market and other projects in the sector.

Interestingly, Green Gold Liberia, an NGO, was encouraged by the NACUL-sponsored latrine project and promised to train charcoal producers on sustainable and alternative production.

Making remarks at the occasion, Green Gold Liberia Lead Technical Consultant, Mr. Gerrad Singh, commended NACUL and its network organizations for the project.

Singh also presented to Gola-Konneh Charcoal Producers Association a simple machine that compacts coal dust, saw dust, ashes and other wastes to usable coal. He named wreaths, grass and other agricultural wastes as sources of charcoal if production must be sustainable, which he said his organization has embarked on training people.

Meanwhile, residents of Gola-Konneh District, through their Paramount Chief Momo Thomas, have lauded the efforts of NACUL for the project, which they said is not only beneficial to Weajue Town alone, but the entire District and passersby.

Chief Thomas said the project was the first of its kind for residents in Weajue Town to benefit from such a public latrine despite the presence of many NGOs in the county.

According to Chief Thomas, the project site is referred to as “Pupu Field”, meaning it was being used as an area of open defecation due to the lack of public latrine in the town.

After receiving keys to the latrine, Chief Thomas promised to ensure its proper maintenance, saying, “We are going to meet to see how we can manage this toilet good, good.”

Speaking on behalf Charcoal Producers and Sellers Networks, Mrs. Siah Thomas, Chairperson of the Central Monrovia Charcoal Sellers Association, thanked NACUL for the project, which she said has reinvigorated other network organizations.

Mrs. Thomas said the project also demonstrates charcoalers’ commitment in working with and helping the communities. She said it also indicates that those in the Charcoal sector have a major role in society, calling on people not to overemphasize them.

Representatives from the Christian and Muslim communities, traditional, youth and women groups described the latrine as a relief for them because the area was also called “hold your nose and pass”.

The dedication coincided with NACUL’s first annual assembly, where delegates (representatives from established network organizations in various counties) adopted the group’s draft constitution, deliberated on the future of NACUL, strengthening of network groups and support to the union, among others. They also agreed to contribute towards projects that will be undertaken by any network organizations.

NACUL leadership given power to continue until 2022

Meanwhile, delegates from various network associations, at the end of the assembly, adopted a resolution giving the current leadership of NACUL to continue to steer the affairs of the Union until December 2022. The delegates were mainly chairpersons of charcoal producers and sellers networks.

The delegates, according to the resolution, also mandated the current management team to carry out programs and activities aimed at strengthening NACUL and various networks. They further instructed the management to establish more networks and increase NACUL’s programs across Liberia, among others.

Established in 2004, the Union started as an advocacy group for charcoal producers when they (charcoal producers) were coming under pressure and harassment on numerous occasions.

In 2015, with support from Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), NACUL decided to organize charcoal producers and sellers in various counties as network groups under NACUL for the purpose of bringing them under one umbrella to promote activities and solve problems arising in the sector.

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Nimba CHO Wants National Consultation On Major Health Issues

By Mafanta Kromah

 

Nimba County Health Officer (CHO), Mr. Collins S. Bowah, has spoke of the need to conduct a national conference or consultation to discuss major health issues especially maternal health and other areas of concerns.

Speaking over the weekend at his office in Sanniquellie Nimba County, Bowah noted that introducing such initiative will help get rid of maternal death and give people understanding on areas that need to be improved.

He, however, indicated maternal death in Nimba especially at the G. W. Harlay has decreased due to the system, care and concern given patients at the hospital by the County Health care.

“We have a mechanism called the Maternal Death Audit (MDA), there we validate our work to know where we did well and where we need to improve on,” he indicated.

He maintained that in order to put an end to maternal death, they have put stop to delivery at home by traditional midwives; but they have trained them to take care of these pregnant women at the maternal waiting home before delivery.

He asserted that the service at the only public hospital is free of charge and people from all parts of the county get medication from the hospital with lot of affection, maintenance and alarmed.

He noted that the hospital conducts 135 surgeries every month with no cost, unless when it involves blood, something, he said government does not give blood away to people.

“We have an ambulance system to cover distances to get critical cases; we also have an inter-hospital relationship. When we are unable to reach a place in time due to the distant or bad road condition, we contact the nearby medical center for referral in order to save the life of that person,” Bowah narrated.

The County Health Officer also noted that there are several challenges faced by the institution, especially in the case where many patients come at the hospital at the very critical stage of the sickness, noting on the part of maternal, patients delay in making decision to come to hospital, delay to reach the facility and lack of logistic to reach the center all have impact in the case of death.

He also emphasized on the lack of low qualify doctors, stressing they have only three medical doctors and bad road condition delays them in reaching patients in time.

“Maternal health is not helping women because no free services at hospital, no proper transportation, pregnant women are brought to health center by hammocks and there only free health facility is the government hospital that is located in Sanniquellie and very far from some towns and villages,” Comfort Tokpah of the Concern Women in Ganta noted.

Madam Tokpah called on government to put in more efforts in addressing maternal death, just as she has given women the courage to speak out for themselves. Edited By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

Nimba Gender Coordinator Alarms Increase in Rape

 

By Mafanta Kromah  

 

Nimba County Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Coordinator, Madam Yaah Belleh Suah, has alarmed increase in rape in the county.

Madam Suah observed that rape is becoming common in the county because cases are reported on a daily basis.

She noted that on many occasions children, from nine to fifteen years, are the main people of rape victims.

According to her, there are over 25 cases of rape in Nimba since the beginning of 2017, adding, “It is a normal thing in the county as people rape girl children for common.”

The Gender Coordinator claimed that there is no proper justice given to victims of rape; as such, the rate continues to increase day by day.

She maintained that due to the lack of proper justice system, people commit such a big crime and at end walk away with impunity.

Madam Suah said the ministry plays its part as it is concerned with women issues and grouping and violence against women and children including sexual assaults and rape. All the cases are court, but she mentioned delay in trial has resulted into many cases not being heard.

She stressed the need for more awareness in the act of assault and rape, noting that people need to be more educated  about the act and the consequences.

At the same time, a concerned women group in Ganta rape is a major issue in the county as children are raped for common without proper justice.

They recommend government to review the rape law and create civil educators to educate citizens of the law and the punishment attached, in order to put fear in people committing this crime.

According to the Eighth Judiciary Circuit Court in Sanniquellie, there are 21 rape cases pending trial during its May Term of Court.

Rape is an unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age and incapable of valid consent.

It is believed that there are several effects of sexual assault and rape that affect the mind, body and spirit. Many survivors experience one or more of these effects and they are not mutually exclusive. For example, a physical reaction to trauma such as self-injury can be the result of depression.

It takes only women to understand how difficult the pain of these experiences can be for victims, and there are calls for the Ministry of Gender to honor the process of acknowledging these effects with the goal to help guide each of the victims’ paths to healing.

After they have gone through a traumatic experience such as a rape or an assault, it is common for a survivor to feel shaken or unlike him or herself. It is a complex form of trauma that breaches the physical, mental and spiritual trust of a person against their will. This can affect a person’s mentality, especially during youth when the brain is highly elastic during its formative years.

According to Joyful Heart Foundation, one of the main effects of assault and rape is depression that is more than common feelings of temporary sadness.

The report stresses that the symptoms can include prolonged sadness, feelings of hopelessness, unexplained crying, and changes in appetite with significant weight loss or gain, loss of energy or loss of interest and pleasure in activities previously enjoyed.

Depression can affect a person’s outlook, which can lead to feelings of bleakness. This, in turn, can impact his or her thought process and ability to make decisions. Edited By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

Korkoya-Stewart Legal Battle Intensifies

By: Yassah J. Wright/088045821

National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman, Jerome Korkoya has filed Action of Damage for Libel against former Commissioner of the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Mr. John Stewart, and other media entities worth US$200, 000.00 for general damages and US$75,000.00 for punitive damages.

The NEC boss action is based on Stewart’s article published in the Analyst and The New Democrat Newspapers Wednesday July 6, 2016 caption “Assessing Presidential Candidate Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s Chances in 2017”.

Chairman Korkoya, in his complaint told the court that the damages based upon a calculated act of character assassination committed by John H. T. Stewart, the Analyst newspaper, and the New Democrat newspaper against him, ‘a decent man who worked his way from the position of janitor at the Liberia Refinery Petroleum company (LPRC) and has enjoyed a good reputation must not go unpunished’.

According to count-4 of Korkoya’s complaint, the libel is one of the classes of injuries listed under defamation and same will lie when a defendant’s written words are false and injure the reputation, trade, or profession of the plaintiff.

Responding to the action of damage for libel filed against him including the New Democrat Newspaper and the Analyst Newspaper, Stewart pray the court to dismiss the complaint, saying Korkoya is a public official, a position that is subject of greater public scrutiny.

Stewart pointed out that his request for a dismissal of the complaint is supported by the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in the case; Rosenbloom vs Metromedia (1971) in an opinion delivered by Mr. Justice Brennan in which the court made a clear distinction between public figures and private persons in terms of the standard for dismissing libel suits filed by public figures.

Furthermore, the former commissioner in his second count of defense said, “the entire complaint should be dismissed because the law on defamation does not protect a public figure or public official and is open to public scrutiny at all times, hence; assuming without admitting that the statement complained of are false, mere fact of falsehood is not a sufficient ground for plaintiff to file an action claiming damages for defamation, unless he shows that the defendant acted with actual malice”.

Count-12 of Stewart’s defense stated that, “ further as to count two of the complaint, Co-defendant Stewart says that same is a mere citation of the opinion of the Supreme Court and therefore, does not deserve any more traversal than what has been stated in Count 10&11 of the answer.”

He cited a case “Wooding & Company Vs Gibson, 2LLR 409,412 (1922) Bakeh Vs Greene, 14LLR 204, 211,(1960) ,Boveri &AG Vs Morris, 26 LLR (1978); Meridian Biao Bank Vs Maha Industries et all (Supreme Court  (decided January 4, 2013)  as his legal reliance.

The case is expected to resume next week at the Civil Law Court in Monrovia upon notice of assignment. Edited By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

LDEA Battles Illicit Drugs Sale, Usage in Nimba

By Mafanta Kromah

 

A statement released by the Nimba County’s Detail of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) said the sale and consumption of illicit drugs are on the increase in Nimba County.

According to the statement, the Agency has arrested four individuals including three Nigerian nationals and one Liberian for allegedly involving in selling and distributing drugs

Speaking in an interview with female journalists on April 25, 2017 at the office of the Liberia LDEA in Ganta Nimba County,  County Commander Julius Kanubah said they were all found with huge grams of narcotic, heroin, cocaine, among others illicit drugs.

The alleged suspects include Olivar Nwankwo, Nigerian, 27, Kendrick Bee, a Liberian, Friday Ukwein a Nigerian, and George Good a Nigerian.

He also explained that 5,550 marijuana trees were discovered at Blueto Forest, allegedly planted by the Liberians.

According to National Institute on Drug and Abuse, Cocaine is an illicit drug that causes a short-life, intense high that is immediately followed by the contradictory-strong depression, nerviness and a desire for more of the drug. People who use it often don’t eat or sleep correctly. They can experience greatly increased heart rate, muscle spasms and convulsions. The drug can make people feel paranoid, annoyed, unreceptive and anxious.

Regardless of how much of the drug is used or how frequently, cocaine increases the risk that the user will experience a heart attack, stroke, seizure or respiratory (breathing) failure, any of which can result in sudden death.

The phrase “dope fiend” was originally coined many years ago to describe the negative side effects of constant cocaine use. As tolerance to the drug increases, it becomes necessary to take greater and greater quantities to get the same high. Prolonged daily use causes sleep deprivation and loss of appetite. A person can become psychotic and begin to experience hallucinations.

A person coming down from the drug causes depression in a way that that the person will do almost anything to get the drug, they can even commit murder and if he or she can’t get cocaine, the depression can get so intense it can drive the addict to suicide. Probably this is one of the reasons of the high rate of suicide on the continent.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, once heroin enters the brain, it is converted to morphine and binds rapidly to opioid receptors.

The report also reveals that the initial effects, users usually will be drowsy for several hours; mental function is clouded; heart function slows; and breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes enough to be life-threatening. Slowed breathing can also lead to coma and permanent brain damage.

Report also shows that the effects of narcotic stimulants and other depressant, which initially produce a feeling of euphoria that often is followed by drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. Users also may experience constricted pupils, watery eyes, and itching.

The effects further include nausea and vomiting, abdominal distention and bloating, constipation, liver damage (especially prevalent in abuse of drugs that combine opiates with acetaminophen), brain damage due to hypoxia resulting from respiratory depression and development of tolerance and dependence.

However, according to UN statistics 37,000 people in Africa die annually from disease associated with the consumption of illegal drug. The UN also estimates there are 28million drug users in Africa of which Liberia is no exception.

The UN report at the same time stated that Africa is completely weak in terms of border control and the big drug cartels from Colombia and Latin America has chosen Africa as a way to reach Europe.

In addition the UN office on Drugs and Crimes noted that West African countries such Guinea Bissau, Liberia and other was becoming the target of these criminal institutions, which were taking advantage of the weaknesses of police and lack of money and resources to use these countries for transit proposes. “When you become a transit country, you are immediately also consumption countries,” said the Gilberto Gerra, the UN Chief of Drug Prevention and Health.

Meanwhile, the Ganta City Magistrate, Owens Freeman, has admitted receiving the alleged drugs traffickers but said they are undergoing trial. Edited By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

‘Another Milestone of China-Liberia Relations’ -Amb. ZHANG

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye, Monrovia, Liberia

Pres. Sirleaf receiving gift from Chinese engineer at the ceremony on April 27

 

Chinese Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. ZHANG Yue, has termed the executions of a ministerial complex and the two annexes to Liberian Capitol Building, under China-Aid, as another milestone of China-Liberia relations.

“The process of putting the projects in place is a process of mutual understanding between our two peoples and the outcome has further strengthened our friendship and cooperation,” Amb. ZHANG said on April 27, 2017, at the groundbreaking ceremony of the projects in Monrovia.

Amb. ZHANG alluded to a Chinese proverb that says: “It takes long time to have good things,” indicating that the good things are around the corner after several years of hard work and patience of both sides.

According to him, the Ministerial Complex and the Capitol Building Annexes will improve the working conditions of the Liberian government and legislature so as to better serve Liberian people.

He explained that the Ministerial Complex, with a total construction area of 24,000 square meters, is designed to accommodate at least 1,300 people. It includes offices, meeting rooms, auditorium, multi-function hall, archives, canteen and also auxiliary facilities such as water pump house, power distribution and generator room. For the two Capitol Annex buildings, the Chinese Envoy said the total construction area is 7,300 square meters, accommodating at least 400 people.

Both the Complex and the Annex buildings, he said, are fully equipped with office furniture, assuring that after 30 months, people will see the brand new and well-functioned Ministerial and Capitol buildings.

Amb. ZHANG averred that the projects are solid evidence for the strong commitment of China to stand with Liberia, to develop with Liberia and to share with Liberia, adding, “We are trying our best to make the friendship and partnership between China and Liberia as well as Africa meaningful and tangible, and to let people feel it by heart.”

He also used the occasion acknowledge the contractors, the JPC (Jiangsu Provincial Construction Group) for the Ministerial Complex and JC (Jiangdu Construction Group) for the Annex buildings. Amb. ZHANG said these are not only turn-key projects, but much more than that. More than 400 Liberian workers to join in the construction of the two projects. And a special technical team from Ministry of Public Works is working closely with the Chinese engineers during the whole process in order to know everything specific about the buildings for the better operation and maintenance of them in the future.

“So capacity-building is a major element of China-aid programs,” he maintained.

Then commended all the members of the Liberian team working with China for the support and cooperation.

Also making remark while officially breaking ground for the projects, Liberia’s President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, termed the two projects as a great relief for various ministries and agencies of the Government of Liberia operating from outdated buildings that do not meet current day reality.

The Liberian Chief Executive commended China, also recognizing the contributions of former Chinese Ambassadors-Lin Songtian, Zhou Yuxiao and now Zhang Yue as well acknowledging President Xi Jinping for working towards bringing to fulfillment the Ministerial Complex and Annexes at the Legislature.

On his part, Liberia’s Public Works Minister, Mr. William G. Moore, said the construction of the Ministerial Complex and Annexes to the Capitol Building was not strange to him. Moore said he became involved with the projects when he worked in the President Delivery Unit (PDU). He said he was delighted at this time that the projects are being formally executed. He extended gratitude to former Public Works Minister, Samuel Kofi Woods and Antoinette Weeks who laid all the technical details for the projects prior to his appointment, as Minister.

Minister Moore then commended the Government of the People’s Republic of China for providing the Ministerial Complex and Annexes to the Capitol Building as China-Aided for Liberia.