Liberia: UNMIL Humanitarian Situation Report No. 15
A. GENERAL SITUATION
The United States of America recently provided an additional contribution to the Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) Trust Fund of UNDP. A cheque for US$15 million from USAID was handed over by the US Ambassador in Liberia to Ambassador Abou Moussa, Officer-in-Charge for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) who is also UNDP's Resident Coordinator/Resident Representative.
During the Donor Consultative meeting on education facilitated by UNESCO, the EU shared its draft inception report. It outlined five key areas of assistance to be supported by the EU with the sum of 12 million Euros, over the next three years. Three of these were categorized as emergency intervention namely capacity building of the Ministry of Education, text books production, research development and the other two categorized as long term were construction of schools with primary focus on elementary education and training of teachers. The EU stated that assistance was however contingent on the government showing a political will over a period of six months to restructure the Ministry in order to ensure professional staff with no ghost workers provide sound financial management; and make provisions for regular payment of salaries.
On June 30, UNMIL Civil Affairs RRR took part in a ceremony marking the opening of a Regional Training Centre for Blacksmithing, a facility rehabilitated by the LICP/USAID costing USD 66,000. The centre with a current intake of 30 trainees has scheduled a training group each fortnight. The training would be tailored at the production of farm, and other agricultural related tools, using scrap metals. The training would mostly target ex-combatants and other war affected persons. It is hoped that farm tools produced at the above centre would help build the capacity of local farmers in the rural areas. The Tubmanburg Centre becomes the fourth of such a training centre in the country. Among those who attended the ceremony, including Mr. S. Thirugnanasambanthar, FAO Country Representative, Mr. John Travis, LCIP Representative, Mrs. Haja Washington, the County Superintendent, and Mr. Gbelley Karmley, the City Mayor.
B. HUMANITARIAN ACTIVITIES
Health and Nutrition
The first meeting for reactivation of National Task Force for Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) was recently held in the Family Health Division of the Ministry of Health (MOH); and was attended by representatives of MOH, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, Africare, World Vision/Liberia, and St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital. The meeting discussed the formation of a national core body, which will assist the MOH move the adaptation and implementation of IMCI forward in Liberia. The meeting also identified areas of focus, which should be addressed during the upcoming consultancy. The consultant will train members of the Task Force, to ensure that everyone is at the same level for the developments in IMCI. Moreover, it might be useful to consider simultaneous adaptation of the IMCI strategy, country implementation plan and strategy, policy, and guidelines. Meanwhile, WHO will distribute the generic IMCI Strategy, training and other IMCI documents among the members.
Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI)
The surveillance review for EPI diseases, which is part of the EPI Comprehensive Review, was conducted from 13 - 19 June 2005. A draft report has been prepared; and an official debriefing meeting with the Minister of Health, WHO Representative and UNICEF Representative was organized on 22 June 2005. During the debriefing session, consensus was reached to implement the key action points of the recommendations between July and December 2005.
The review of EPI Programme Management and Identification of System-Wide Barriers to Immunization has been initiated, and the review meeting will continue from 20 June to 4 July 2005. Senior Officers from the Regional Offices of WHO and UNICEF are participating in the exercise. The review tools for all levels of the health system have been developed and reviewed by senior officers of WHO, UNICEF and MOH.
The meeting for review of routine EPI activities for the first half of 2005 was held at the Ministry of Gender & Development from 24 - 25 June 2005. All the county EPI supervisors and cold chain officers participated in the review meeting.
Response to Cholera Outbreak
Following the declaration of cholera outbreak in Monrovia and its environs by the Minister of Health on 8 June 2005, there were media reports of similar outbreaks in Nimba and Sinoe counties. From 01 May to 19 June 2005, 369 cases of acute watery diarrhea were reported from Montserrado, Nimba and Sinoe counties. There were 6 deaths and 7 confirmed cholera cases.
At the national level, WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health (MOH) to coordinate the outbreak response interventions; and to establish active surveillance system for acute watery diarrhoea, cholera, and dysentery in the affected areas. WHO has concluded arrangements with MOH and St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital for investigation and confirmation of cases.
Two teams from WHO and MOH were dispatched to Nimba and Sinoe counties. In Nimba County, a meeting of all health sector stakeholders was convened in Ganta City to plan a response to the reported cholera outbreak. With the collaboration of the County Health Team, roles and responsibilities were assigned to health partners. Since 01 May 2005, 55 cases have been reported in Sanniquelleh and Sacclepea areas. There were 5 confirmed cases of cholera and 2 deaths. The partners were briefed on case definition, investigation, confirmation, and prompt reporting. Laboratory investigation kits were presented to the County Health Team and the stakeholders.
Another team visited Greenville in Sinoe County, where there were 87 reported cases of watery diarrhea with 4 deaths since 01 May 2005. Because the County Health Team was in short supply of all response resources, the WHO and MOH teams negotiated with UNMIL in Greenville to supply drugs and infusions to the hospital until the supplies arrived.
Another mission was sent to Greenville on 21 June 2005. This team will upgrade the knowledge and skills of the health workers, other stakeholders and communities on the prevention, control and management of cholera. WHO has donated one complete Cholera Kit, laboratory investigation equipment, and diagnostic tools to the Sinoe County Health Team.
The major causes of the outbreak in the affected areas include poor quality of drinking water, and sanitation/hygiene practices.
Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Promotion
With a cholera emergency in Monrovia, UNICEF and its partners are working to position and distribute emergency humanitarian supplies in all affected communities. Cholera surveillance and data collection teams are being strengthened, especially in Sinoe and Nimba counties where recent cases of cholera have been reported. Cholera is a preventable disease, and a mass communication programme is underway to give the information Liberians need to protect their families and communities from this child killing disease, including the printing of 14 hygiene promotion posters by the Ministry of Health that will be distributed in all of Liberia's 15 counties. As part of its ongoing national hygiene promotion programme, UNICEF this week also provided funding and facilitation support to hygiene promotion activities in 61 schools in the Barrobo and Karluway districts in Maryland County.
UNICEF provided funding and facilitation support to the construction of wells and latrines in 40 schools in Nimba (25), Maryland, (4) and Grand Kru (11) Counties. The facilities will benefit approximately 8,000 students in the three Counties.
The first draft of the Strategic Plan of Action that will address the needs of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Liberia has been completed. The Action Plan was drafted at a two-day UNICEF facilitated meeting held for government, local and international NGOs, and other UN stakeholders. The programme plan addresses four key thematic areas: Health and Nutrition with a focus on HIV/AIDS; Education; Protection; and Water and Environmental Sanitation.
UNICEF facilitated a four-day workshop on reintegration follow-ups for 36 social workers and tracing agents from five Child Protection Agencies in Ganta, Nimba County.
UNICEF continues to procure and supply furniture to schools participating in the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) in Montserrado County. So far, UNICEF has supplied 684 arm chairs, 466 student desks, 64 teacher desks and chairs, 25 kindergarten chairs, and 14 kindergarten tables to 12 ALP schools in Montserrado County. ALP condenses six years of primary schooling into three years of intensive activities to enable children and youth make up for lost educational years.
UNICEF distributed 3,360 elementary school textbooks to some 26 schools in Montserrado County. The textbooks cover the four key subject areas: Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts.
The Government of Liberia and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Tuesday June 28, sign a US$120,000 Agreement in response to an umbrella request from the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Liberian Government.
The assistance, which is being provided by FAO through the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), is to formulate medium-term investment programmes reflecting the commitment to allocate within five years at least 10 percent of the national budget to agriculture as ratified in the Maputo Declaration by Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
Under the project, the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Agriculture is to prepare a portfolio of "Bankable Project Profiles" within the priority areas identified in the Maputo Declaration at national level, specifically water control and rural infrastructure.
The project titled, "Assistance in the Preparation of a Medium-term Investment Programme and Formulation of Bankable Projects in Support to the Comprehensive Africa's Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) will embrace a participatory approach aimed at achieving genuine ownership.
In achieving these objectives, potential investors, including international and regional financing institutions, donors and the private sector, as well as other principal stakeholders, such as the government, NGOs, farming groups and community-based organizations will be involved in the process.
Agriculture Minister, George Karmee signed on behalf of the Liberian Government, while the FAO Resident Representative in Liberia, Subramaniam Thirugnanasambanthar signed on behalf of FAO. The project is expected to last for one year.
In a related development, FAO has provided two motorbikes to the Ministry of Agriculture for use by the Ministry's Regional Offices under the project, titled, "Emergency Provision of Agricultural Inputs and Support to the Coordination of Emergency Agricultural Interventions". This project, supported by the United States of America, has provided 25 metric tons of seed rice, 2,250 kits of assorted vegetable seeds and 3,250 kits of hand tools to 3,350 vulnerable farm families in rural Liberia.
As part of the project, FAO is currently renovating an annex (to be used as coordination office) of the Ministry of Agriculture and will provide computers to the Ministry's coordination office and regional offices. Training of beneficiary farmers on basic crop husbandry practices, including conducting of workshops with farmers, MOA staff and technicians is also part of the project.
During the reporting week, the Health Technical Working Group held their regular technical meeting. The TORs were adopted and implementation of activities started. Activities include gathering information in order to compile a comprehensive report on the status of health services in the county. Additional benefits are to ensure that services being provided meet set standards as well as gathering information on who is doing what where (W3). The Who, What, Where database is devised by the HIC will be cross referenced to ensure accuracy. Once the report is mutually agreed upon reviews will be made to identify gaps and duplication of services and then these issues will be addressed.
A Task Force made up of LRRRC, Dev Superintendent, WFP, UNHCR, HCS, Human Rights and Universal Evangelical Ministries was established during the Interagency Meeting to plan and prepare for the training the SWGs on Humanitarian Coordination. Training contents, list of trainers and possible date for the training will be established. The Interagency meeting also agreed to use of the HIC by having staff from the HIC support the SWG in gathering information to input into the Who is Doing What Where, an exercise that is very important for coordination purposes. The meeting agreed to invite a representative of the HIC to the next meeting that will be held on 29 July 2005. However, it was agreed that the SWGs can request for assistance before that if and when it is necessary.
Humanitarian Coordination meeting noted concern over the reports on the outbreak of cholera in Gbarpolu County. In addition to the prevention sensitization campaign the county medical personnel have elected a temporary tent to handle the reported cases. Taking in consideration the already limited medical facilities as well as medical personnel in the county the meeting observed that there is an urgent need of reinforcement as part of contingency planning so as to contain the outbreak to other parts of the County. Apparently the County health centre has only one ambulance at hand. The HAO will continue to follow up and collect information in the area and has co-organized the first Bomi county Health Sectoral meeting.
An additional health related meeting took place with Merlin and MSF Belgium about the gaps in primary health services in the western region (medical clinics in Cape Mount) and mapping interest in playing an active part in the Tubmanburg hospital. MSF Belgium will discuss provision of spare drugs they have in theirs stocks.
On June 28, 2005, HCS monitored refugees return process in Bongolodu Town at the Guinea Border, where 108 family heads; comprising 248 returnees were received on arrival from the Kuntayah Camp in Kissidougou Prefecture, Guinea without problems.
There was a meeting with LRRRC Regional Officer to discuss the proposed HCM schedule as there is an initiative from the HCS to change the structure.
HCS participated in the GBV Meeting chaired by IRC in the HCS Conference Room. The meeting highlighted the health consequences of GBV, the psychological impact on the offended, the need for a laboratory in Zorzor Curran and Foya Hospitals and the need to establish mechanisms to deter such this inhumane attitude
During the last weeks IDPs continued to be assisted, they are mainly located in camps in Bong and the greater Montserrado area. Out of the total number of IDPs registered with WFP (feeding log) of 314 000 IDPs, about 182 451 IDPs, representing about 5 500 families have received return assistance, as of 28 June 2005. This leaves about 130 000 IDPs in camps and so-called spontaneous settlements. The office has received encouraging reports that the IDPs are returning in great numbers to the Counties of Bomi, Lofa and Bong. An additionally indicator of the return of IDPs is the fact that about 83, 000 have received their second two month food tranche in the return areas. This is 73% of the IDPs that have already received their first two month food tranche in the camp.
Out of the total 64 000 huts in camp and spontaneous settlements about 20 000 have so far been demolished. The IDP Unit continues to distribute some tools to assist the LRRRC and IDP teams in the camps.
A LRRRC chaired Task Force for Camp Closure and Consolidation have been established. The Task Force includes several NGOs, IGOs, Agencies and HCS/IDP Unit. An assessment of the 35 camps and spontaneous settlements are planned for next week, and will thereafter forward recommendations to the IDP Consultative Forum.
With the Interagency Approach two additional international staff members arrived recently to strengthen the efforts of the IDP Unit/HCS monitoring in the return areas. Currently there one international staff member in Gbanga (Bong) and the two new staff members will be deployed to Voinjama (Lofa County) and Tumbmanburg (Bomi County).
The HIC Manager is representing the Chief of HCS at the Guinea Contingency Plan regional meeting in Dakar, also being attended by colleagues from UNMIL. The meeting is being organized by UNOWA and OCHA Regional Office in Senegal. During the week the HIC supported UNMIL Electoral with specific data needs for resolving election issues in Grand Bassa County as well as updated our County Recovery Information System (CORE-SYS) database with health facilities provided by MOH.
The Hic provided the following products; delivered a cholera database (due to recent incidences) to the Ministry of Health and MSF-B; completed a map for WFP showing roads status and checkpoints; completed an updated version of Who's Doing What Where in the Wat/San sector.
Emergency Relief Fund
The OCHA ERF project funded by USAID/OFDA is scheduled to close on 31 July 2005 with the remaining US$308,000 still uncommitted.
Up to present, the ERF has closed fifteen completed projects. Six of the fifteen IPs have received their remaining 20% tranches and the other nine IPs payments have been processed and sent to Geneva for payments to their various accounts.
A monitoring field trip is planned by the ERF to monitor WATSAN and drugs distribution projects in Bong and Nimba counties beginning tomorrow, July 1, 2005.
For further information please write to:
Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer
Humanitarian Coordination Section - UNMIL
Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia