Although national reconstruction, especially following periods of debacle within a nation goes beyond advocacy for genuine change in various forms and in various fields of life, as means to readjusting the population to normality, it is unarguable that Liberia, still striving thereat, needs huge capital infusion in the practical creation of such environment nationwide.
Granted the increasing pace in infrastructural development as a direct result of the destruction caused by the past civil crisis, with Monrovia, the nation’s capital gradually taking shape, the countryside too may be slowly but surely grappling with the national thrust in improving communities, howbeit largely on individual basis, particularly the employed, with national celebrations such as Independence Day buttressing the process.
Comparatively, individuals who may have resided or visited the countryside prior to the past civil crisis would instantly feel down-hearted upon first sight of the countryside, given the extensive damage caused by rat-tag militias who may have targeted the looting of property, amidst the loss of innocent lives.
Thus and precisely against this backdrop, swift interventions respectively by the Economic Community of West African States Peace Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) have had to obtain in the last 22 years, with priority given first to the disarming and demobilization of the “illegal gun carriers.”
Proceeding with rehabilitation and reintegration of former combatants, humanitarian assistance had remain the mainstay of donors for the Liberian population, with influx of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) pursuing various goals in helping address the worsening plight of citizens.
Humanitarian as the phase became known until the ushering of a democratic leadership in 2005, with the local population gradually adopting modes of foreign partners by establishing like-organizations in increased number, more practical results that would have impacted the lives of communities continue to remain paramount concern in credible quarters.
Whilst several INGOs and local NGOs appeared to have engaged in sensitizing the public in areas of upholding democratic tenets, involving human rights, rule of law, sustainable development, HIV/AIDS, etc., others, through reports, had engaged their services in the provision of basic amenities such as water, food, medical and other supplies, including agricultural inputs.
Worth underscoring that the above activities had been given wide publicity in the media, assessment and re-assessment missions to ascertain impacts made on the lives of the population and communities, particularly rural dwellers appear discouraging, with no infrastructure left as symbol for the assistance rendered.
The faulty scenario apparently proving reasons for “donors” that characterized the humanitarian period, during which time the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs became the sole governmental agency to issue operating permits, with expectation by the public that those thereat would have put into place effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, the democratic leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, no wonder, has since had to be bombarded with continuing appeals from all sub-divisions for infrastructural development, reflecting that more talking and not physically setting physical examples by INGOs and local NGOs became the preoccupation.
Resembling that of Liberia’s forestry sector during the period that witnessed the influx of concessionaires, only to have vanished in thin air following the resignation of Dr. Charles Ghankay Taylor as President of Liberia, in spite the channeling of funds from the international community to the country through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the ongoing democratic mode reinforcing bilateral engagement remains quite important in ensuring prudential management that would see communities enlivened.
Of significant notice and importance, however, remains the continuing presence of some INGOs in the country that are also supportive of the work of the local counterpart, all of which must now begin shifting from the many classroom work into the fields to leave marks for the future, especially infrastructural development.
For example, there are very few INGOs that have noticeably redirected, if not included in their programs/projects the donation of building materials to rural dwellers in helping rebuild communities, whilst others have constructed clinics and engaged into agricultural production. Peace Winds Japan, CARITAS and Save The Children (U.K.) are just few but more is required.
Allowing our rural dwellers to use local materials, many ghost towns and villages could measure up to the national reconstruction program since embarked upon by the leadership, though they must continue to drink from creeks and rivers, due to limited hand-dug wells, lack of public toilets even in local capitals, as well as market buildings in major towns.
Against the backdrop of continuing fora launched by government in various regions under the canopy of Vision 2030, exercises that may not necessarily be attended by all affected members of the population but their representatives, it is timely that Internal Affairs Minister Blamo Nelson, Public Works Minister Kofi Woods rethink the proper planning or re-planning of towns and cities with some real results produced as impetus to gradually modernizing the country.
Meantime, the little “konko” can only be considered first step to encouraging government about their existence.