Bong County Expresses Disappointment in Kokoyah Millennium Village
Bong County – Residents of Botola Kokoyah District in Bong County have described the Millennium Development Project as an unsuccessful project that has failed to meet its goal.
The residents noted that government undertook projects that were earmarked by the people of the community who were supposed to be the beneficiaries but are not actually benefiting.
The residents of Bong Couty disclosed that the initial projects that were due to be undertaken were also cancelled by government, something they are describing as not being in their interest.
Citizens of Botola Town, one of the towns that has benefited from projects from the Millennium Development Villages said that only few buildings were erected by the project implementers.
The Kokoyah Millennium Villages Development Project (KMVDP) is a community based rural development project implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in partnership with UNDP Liberia, the beneficiary communities and the Government of Norway as donor.
The project, initially planned for five years (2008-2013), suffered implementation delays that eventually led to a no-cost extension to May 2014. The Ministry of Internal Affairs says initially project interventions were spread across many towns in Kokoyah, making it difficult to measure the actual results and impact.
According to the Ministry, from July 2013, following the transition of the project from UNDP to the Government through the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), the Kokoyah Millennium Villages Project (KMVP) had a rethink of the intervention strategy, in line with the Government of Liberia’s Agenda for Transformation (AfT) which advocates for Sustainable Economic Transformation, Peace, Security and Reconciliation.
The transition of the project gave the Government leadership of the implementation efforts, albeit implementation under this new arrangement is challenging, in terms of adaptation and coping with the changes under National Implementation Modality (NIM).
UNDP, on the other hand, retains the fiduciary responsibility of the project for quality assurance, as well as reporting to the donor.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Sunday dedicated series of projects in Bong County under the Millennium Development Village Project funded by the Norwegian government.
The Liberian leader dedicated the most talked-about and publicized Kokoyah Millennium Villages Project in Botola and Rock Crushier Towns respectively.
Prior to the dedication ceremony, several residents of Botola, one of the towns benefiting the Millennium Development Project, expressed disappointment in the manner in which the project was implemented.
The residents told FrontPageAfrica that the structures were being erected but there are no facilities to run the structures.
Old lady Kermah Kerkula 58, a resident of Botola Town expressed that she left from Monrovia to establish a home in Kokoyah due to what she heard about the Millennium Village, but to her utmost surprise, she couldn’t afford to live in the town again.
“I am citizen of Bong County. I born all of my children here in this county and am from Guamu, and my husband from Botola. When I heard that good life was coming to this town, I told my husband we can settle in his hometown – our old age. “
But my son when I came here only few new buildings could be seen. I thought the village was intended to change our lives but most of what they have built here have no major impact on us as citizens. Look at the clinic, they build nine rooms clinic, and only nine persons working there without equipment.”
Madam Kerkula who claimed to be a graduate of the Cuttington University further disclosed that the clinic in the town has only two medical workers employed by the government.
“Can you imagine, the old clinic we had here was a nine room clinic but government build seven bedrooms clinic under their millennium project and the clinic has only nine workers. Out of the nine workers only two are on government payroll and the rest are volunteers getting nothing from government,” she noted.
A youth leader in the area, Prince Gboyah also described the project as a failure due to what he calls empty structures.
“You cannot come here and build few substandard buildings without empowering the people to make use of those buildings and then you say the project is successful. US$5M is not a small money for government to come here and tell us that after constructing a mini clinic, one information center that has nothing in it, one so called multipurpose building and one hand pump for US$5 Million, how do you expect the people to benefit from those empty buildings that are only bearing names without services?” he asked.
Bong County Lawmaker, Rep. George Mulbah, noted that he is eager to know how much the government spent for the village that was been publicized throughout the years.
Lawmaker Mulbah also confirmed that government did consult the county leadership before carrying on the project. He, however, welcomed the project, saying something is being done in Bong County by this administration.
He thanked the Liberian leader for choosing Bong to benefit from the project. “For me I don’t want to be fast to speak here, I first want to know how much government has spent for this project, and I thanked God the president was able to choose Bong County for this project,” he noted.
The market superintendent of Bong County, Viola Cooper, also expressed disappointment for not including the marketers in the process. Madam cooper noted that only marketers know what is good for marketers.
“We the marketers know what we want, so if you want to build market for us, it is good that you include us in the planning process. We will tell how and where to build the market because we are the ones that are using it,” she noted.
Praises for Norway
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during the dedicatory ceremony of the project praised the Norwegian government for providing the necessary funding for the project.
She urged residents of the village to maintain the project. She promised that government will do all it can to decentralize.
Also speaking, a representative of the Norwegian government, Ingrid Buli, said in 2000, 189 countries committed to a set of goals – the millennium Development goals. Liberia was one of them, and so was Norway.
The goals concerned eradicating extreme poverty to achieve universal education, to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. It concerned combating HIV/AIDS, to promote gender equality and to make development sustainable.
“When Norway decided to fund the Kokoyah Millennium Village project in 2008, it was in a sense an effort to put our money where our mouth was – and to try to assist Liberia in achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” she said.
“During the time of the project, we have learnt a lot. We learned that development takes great effort, and great time. We learned that that perhaps our development models, and how we thought about them, were too academic, too theoretical. “
“We learned that in development, we can assist, but it is not us, or UNDP, or the ministry, achieving the results. It is the people of Kokoyah. And only the people can make the achievements last and thrive,” she noted.
She added that a school building is nothing without a teacher and the students, and a clinic without nurses is just a building.
“We also recognized the effect of the tragedies caused by the Ebola Virus Disease. Despite these challenges, I see that Kokoyah has come a long way towards achieving the Millennium development goals.”
” I see schools with an increased number of students, improved health services, better access to electricity, communication services, better business opportunities and improved food security.”
The Norwegian envoy noted that the time of the Millennium Development Goals has passed and they have gotten a new set of goals – The Sustainable development goals.
She said it is up to Liberia and the people of Kokoyah to maintain and develop the achievements made under the project, and to continue working towards the new set of goals.
From 2008 to 2012, the government of Liberia disclosed that they provided 6.5 metric tons of NPK fertilizer and 1,207 pieces of simple farming tools and rain gears to 11 farming groups and 638 house-hold farmers in 17 towns. Majority (60%) of the farmers are women, contrary to what the residents have told FrontPageAfrica.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs said two modern health clinics in Yolo Town and Rock Crusher were constructed and turned over to the County for operation, management and maintenance.
According to government, the health centers are equipped with an ambulance, 5 beds each, two generators and water wells with towers. The health facilities reach a total of 16,000 people in Kokoyah and Boinsen sub districts, lower Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties.
Emergency referral for pregnant women suffering from hemorrhages during delivery and children to C.B Dunbar and Phebe hospitals in Gbarnga is now possible.
Government has also trained and deployed 22 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) to work in their communities. The CHVs working in their catchment areas have led to a decrease in diarrhea cases for children under five from an initial 601 cases to 75, according to medical officers in the Rock Crusher and Yolo town clinics.
Their intervention has also led to the improvement of sanitation and hygiene, created awareness on HIV/AIDS and improved assistance to pregnant women through referrals to clinics for delivery.
Edwin G. Genoway, Jr (231886458910)[email protected]