Liberia: Plan 2009-2010

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Executive summary

Liberia is one of the wettest countries in the world with an average annual rainfall of more than 5,000 mm in Monrovia, and is prone to many natural risks and hazards such as floods, sea-erosion, storms and fires. Over 14 years of internal conflict (1989-2003) totally destroyed most of the country's infrastructure, and many people took refuge from the fighting by moving to the capital Monrovia, where they still remain in search for jobs. As a result Monrovia is over-crowded with no infrastructure to support the estimated 1.3 million people presently living there. A large percentage live in slums developed during the years of conflict, with little or no access to safe water or health facilities, and the absence of basic sanitation poses a severe threat to the health of the population. In rural Liberia almost no development has taken place over the conflict period, and apart from some towns, in each county the population live in small communities, many of them in isolated and difficult to reach areas due to thick rainforest and lack of roads.

In line with the Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) Strategic Plan 2008-2012, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the Federation) will seek to continue its support to the capacity building of the LNRCS in its goal to become a well-functioning National Society. The aim of the LNRCS is to deliver timely response to the most vulnerable part of the population during emergencies (floods, storms, sea-erosion and other natural disasters), while at the same time developing a business plan that will identify areas for income generating activities, which in the longer term will make the National Society less dependent on donor support.

With support from Participating National Societies (PNS), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other partners, the Federation's aim is to further build capacity in disaster management, health and care, and programmes falling under humanitarian values, while at the same time focusing on enhancing the capacity of the LNRCS' support services such as finance and administration, logistics and fleet. The Federation in Liberia will also enhance the LNRCS's governance capacity both at headquarters and the field level through participatory training workshops for members of the chapters' leadership and members of the board.

The targeted beneficiaries fall in two major groups: Red Cross volunteers and staff at chapter level and at headquarters level, and through the different programmes selected vulnerable communities will benefit from community-based health and disaster management, HIV/AIDS and TB information and communication sessions, humanitarian values programmes targeting war affected children and their caretakers, youth in school-clubs, vulnerable women and children. The LNRCS partners include the Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Netherlands, Spanish, British, and Canadian Red Cross Societies, (ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and USAID/OFDA.

The expected total number of beneficiaries will be 285,000 of which 195,400 will be directly assisted, while 89,600 will benefit as household and/or community members.

The total 2009-2010 budget is CHF 7,761,563 (USD 7,094,664 or EUR 4,943,670).

Country context

Liberia is recovering from a long period of poor governance, conflict and societal breakdown. Its economic collapse has been profound: the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has fallen by 90 per cent as compared to 1980 levels, and it is today among the poorest and least developed countries in the world. The Liberian people suffer some of the highest incidence of malnutrition, infectious diseases and other health problems, the lowest rates for school enrolment and literacy and lack access to almost every basic social service.

Liberia's population is currently estimated at 3.4 million with an annual growth rate of 4.9 %2. After the general election in 2005, the political evolution in Liberia continues to be personality-driven. The internal rife in the lower house of the National Assembly is slowing down the pace of progress expected from the government. The 1989-2003 war in Liberia had a devastating effect on the country's economy, with infrastructure grounded. Unemployment in the country today is estimated at 85 per cent, with majority of the people living in poverty. This makes access to basic health facilities difficult to the vulnerable population.

Liberia is not regarded as a country at high risk to any major natural disasters. However, it is prone to many natural risks and hazards such as floods, sea-erosion, storms and fires. At the same time there are no national risk reduction and/or disaster management policies and plans in place at the government level. The Government of Liberia, under the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MoIA), has a National Disaster Relief Commission, but with limited capacity. During recurrent disasters, the Government calls on the LNRCS to provide assistance. In 2007 there were many smaller disasters3 including floods, storms, sea-erosion and fires and the LNRCS was the only entity to immediately respond to these situations. During the rainy season of 2007 the Government slowly took responsibility for coordinating the efforts made by the LNRCS, the Federation, the ICRC, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGO), who became active in disaster response. The Government is still largely relying on the LNRCS to prepare for - and respond to - disasters until the national policies and systems are in place.

In addition to natural disasters Liberia's neighbouring countries are also unstable, and the LNRCS must be prepared to assist in possible population movement situations.

Despite the high priority given to agriculture and food security over the past years Liberia is still largely dependant on the import of basic food commodities such as rice (the staple food of Liberians). With the global price of rice on the increase, in addition to increasing costs for transportation due to raising oil prices, food insecurity will remain a great concern for the coming years.

With an estimated unemployment rate of 85 per cent, poverty is a contributing factor to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. HIV and AIDS adult prevalence rate is estimated at 5.9 percent, with an estimated 100,000 people living with HIV and AIDS. The estimate of HIV and AIDS deaths is 7,200 per year. Life expectancy at birth is 39.85 years (male) and 42.46 years (female). According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the under-5 mortality rate is 235 per 1,000 live births.