Monrovia, Liberia - The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), World Bank, UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in partnership with the Ministry of Public Works have, over the past year, provided jobs for over 21,000 Liberians, representing 500,000 working days.
The skilled and unskilled labourers, including a female workforce of 26 per cent, have been employed to rehabilitate public infrastructure around the country, undertaking tasks such as the rehabilitation of four major roads in Lofa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties, as well as cleaning garbage and drainage systems in Monrovia, Buchanan, and Harper among others.
The programme, led by UNMIL's Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Recovery (RRR) Section and supported by UNMIL military contingents, is exploring ways to further boost employment by focusing on local communities. Some projects, including one designed to produce crushed stone supplies for road repairs, were established to create employment opportunities for young people, particularly in the regions outside the capital where unemployment rates are highest and they are based on enterprises that could be eventually owned and managed by the beneficiaries of these initiatives. Special efforts are made to target war-affected persons and vulnerable groups. Launched in 2006, the programme supports Government's efforts to create employment and contributes to the Liberia Emergency Employment Programme/Liberia Employment Action Programme (LEEP/LEAP).
During a visit to one of the project sites recently, Director of UNMIL's RRR Section, Andrea Tamagnini, explained that "employment is fundamental in building a solid path towards sustainable peace as it offers an alternative to war and fosters hope for people who are currently emerging from a dark history of conflict. People need to work, now and in the future. One formula to address this problem is creating short-term emergency employment programmes immediately and further exploring ways to make these sustainable while the country slowly recovers from conflict".
As part of this programme implemented by UNMIL and UNHCR, the World Bank provides financial resources channeled through UNDP which contribute to the generation of employment and the road rehabilitation, while WFP offers food support for local initiatives. ILO has taken the lead in collaboration with other UN agencies to assist the Ministry of Labour to design the national employment policy.
With an unemployment rate of over 80 per cent in Liberia, job creation is among the most pressing challenges facing the Government of Liberia today. The provision of alternatives in the form of jobs to a population emerging from conflict is imperative for the consolidation of peace and security and to spur economic growth.