Innovative waste management training for former Liberian combatants launched

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Monrovia, Liberia - UN Deputy Envoy, Mr. Jordan Ryan and German Ambassador Ilse Linderman-Macha joined Liberian Vice-President Joseph Boakai to launch an innovative waste management programme in the Liberian capital. Former combatants will be trained to manage Monrovia's waste and at the same time turn it into non-chemical fertilizers for food production.

The 200 ex-combatants benefiting from the programme, funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), will learn the fundamentals of waste management, and also learn to manufacture simple composting devices for converting waste into organic manure. In addition, the trainees will go into various communities to carry out clean-up campaigns, and educate the people on waste management through street theatre.

Speaking at the formal launch of the programme in Monrovia, Liberian Vice-President, Mr. Joseph Boakai said the long years of war and congestion in Monrovia had made waste management a headache to the city's authorities. He commended IOM for the inventive programme, which he said, would not only make Liberia clean, but also boost food production in the country. Vice-President Boakai expressed the gratitude of the Government and people of Liberia to the Federal Republic of Germany for providing funds for the programme. He told the former combatants to take the training seriously and be of good conduct, adding "this is an opportunity of a life time; make good use of it."

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Recovery and Governance, Mr. Jordan Ryan described the waste management training programme as a laudable initiative, saying a "clean environment is the foundation for a healthy nation." He told the trainees to consider themselves as environmental engineers, "because you are concerned about a better environment for Liberia; you are also engineers of health because a clean Monrovia will promote good health for all." The Deputy UN Envoy urged the ex-combatants to be proud of themselves as they had moved away from being "fighters against people to fighters for a cleaner environment."

In brief remarks, the German Ambassador to Liberia, Ms. Ilse Linderman-Macha, challenged the trainees to use the opportunity offered them to contribute to the rebuilding of their country, adding that, "you're the future of this country; you have to build this country; it's not the international community, it's you the citizens of Liberia." Concluding, she reminded Liberians of a famous quotation of the late American president John F. Kennedy: "Don't ask what your country can do for you; ask yourself what you can do for your country."

The waste management training programme forms part of the final phase of Liberia's Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) programme launched by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on 6 October this year. The IOM has, since 1992, supported the design and implementation of DDRR programmes in many post-conflict countries including Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Haiti. The IOM is jointly implementing the programme in Liberia with UNDP and the National Commission on DDRR.