Liberia: Despite Controversy, World Food Programme Says it Remains Committed to Providing COVID-19 Food Aid
Monrovia – The World Food Programme (WFP) Liberia remains committed to collaborating with the Government of Liberia (GOL) for the successful execution of the GOL COVID-19 Household Food Support Programme (COHFSP) as an important safety net for people affected by COVID-19 in Liberia. This programme is providing a month’s supply of food (50 kg of rice, 10 kg of beans and 1 gallon of vegetable oilper household) for around 2.5 million most vulnerable people across all of Liberia. Transportation and distribution will cost approximately US$3.60 per person and are covered under the WFP budget.
Guiding Principles of WFP Interventions
WFP’s top priority is to meet the food security and nutrition needs of the most vulnerable and needy communities in Liberia. WFP distributes food in a fair, gender-sensitive, accountable and transparent manner to ensure that the most urgent needs are met in an equitable way, and that the highest standards of assistance are applied, providing value-for-money to our partners who support our vital work in Liberia. Asthe world’s largest humanitarian organization working in over 80 countries and serving nearly 100 million of the most vulnerable people, its operations in Liberia are guided by international standards and driven by the principles of neutrality, independence, accountability and professionalism.
Broad Delineation of Roles Between WFP and Government on the COHFSP
As part of the Government’s strategy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, WFP was delegated with the responsibility of implementing the COHFSP given its capacity, experience and expertise in managing emergency relief programmes. President George Manneh Weah has appointed a National Steering Committee (SC) as an oversight mechanism to ensure the COHFSP is implemented in the best interests of the affected populations. The SC provides the broad terms of reference for the food support programme; strategic oversight and operational guidance to the programme; and offer advice to WFP – upon WFP’s request – on various logistical and methodological issues that might benefit from the SC’s expertise.
All operational decisions regarding the execution and financial management of the COHFSP are made by WFP, consistent with its rules and regulations. The objective of this requirement is to ensure fairness, transparency and accountability over the procurement,distribution and other aspects of this important programme. WFP reports on achievements related to the implementation of the COHFSP through the SC.WFP Liberia therefore thanks the Government of Liberia for recognizing the Organization as a trusted partner in the fight against COVID-19 emergency. WFP is applying its thorough knowledge of the Liberian food security, nutrition, logistics and emergency environment as well as its adaptability to operate on a huge scale and in complex situations such as the one that Liberia is experiencing.
As part of the Government’s strategy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, WFP was delegated with the responsibility of implementing the COHFSP given its capacity, experience and expertise in managing emergency relief programmes. President George Manneh Weah has appointed a National Steering Committee (SC) as an oversight mechanism to ensure the COHFSP is implemented in the best interests of the affected populations.
WFP applies a whole-of-society approach to deliver its lifesaving and life-changing assistance. In order to reach a large number of affected communities quickly, especially in emergency situations like COVID-19, WFP works in collaboration with cooperating partners (incl. NGOs) to provide the best services on the ground. These partners operate through community structures and organizations; ensuring a community-driven distribution and implementation of the programme.
Who Is Targeted and How
In line with President Weah’s speech and the Liberian Legislature’s resolution authorizing the State of Emergency, the COHFSP will “prioritize the vulnerable population and the first responder population to wit: the disadvantaged youth, the homeless, orphanages, senior citizens, people with disabilities health workers and security personnel deployed in the frontline of the enforcement of the State of Emergency”. The Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) is conducting the enumeration of households. LISGIS data will be the primary basis for beneficiary selection, particularly for community-based distributions. Based on various criteria agreed among stakeholders represented in the SC, for which data is being collected through the LISGIS enumeration, the most vulnerable households will be determined and selected to ensure the programme reaches around 2.5 million people, including the first responders and vulnerable groups.
Estimated Cost of the Programme and Key Cost Components
The total budget of the COHFSP is US$30 million,comprising the cost of the food basket (rice, beans and vegetable oil) as well as costs of storing, transporting and delivering the assistance to vulnerable households targeted through this programme. These account for US$25 million directly from the Government of Liberia and US$5 million from the World Bank. WFP understands that the Government has transferred the amount to WFP’s account as per the signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP). The value of the food is estimated at an approximate total cost of US$20.4 million, pending the final award of all contracts to suppliers. The portion of the budget thatconstitutes the costs of storing, transporting, and delivering the assistance (or operational costs) is estimated at US$7.8 million. These costs include in-country transport cost, costs for cooperating partners supporting the programme, food safety and quality control, casual labour services, household enumeration/registration, among others. LISGIS’enumeration exercise will cover over 500,000 households at less than US$ 3.4 per household.
Around 6 percent of the budget goes towards meeting essential minimum costs for WFP to deliver its lifesaving assistance – this is standard across all the countries where WFP works and is in line with international standards of aid delivery. These include allocations toward the support costs of the Liberia Country Office directly linked to the execution of the programme (e.g. applicable rental costs, back office staff costs etc) and allocations toward the support costs of WFP Headquarters/Regional Bureau in their oversight and support function, called Indirect Support Costs (ISC). Together, these can be referred to as the administrative costs.
Resources from the COHFSP budget are independently managed by the WFP and not by the Government of Liberia. Government entities will receive resources for specific food-related tasks, such as enumeration, which LISGIS is leading, or communications and security through WFP’s accounting and financial management systems. The COHSFP has established a Finance and Budget Committee chaired by the World Bank that approves expenditures. WFP will provide a financial report on expenditures accrued for the implementation of the COHFSP to the Government through the Steering Committee.
More on Indirect Support Costs (ISC)
ISC deductions are applied to all contributions made to WFP operations for food or cash to beneficiaries in all countries of the world. The ISC rate and the framework guiding ISC-related issues are approved by the WFP Executive Board, comprised of representatives from 36 member states of the United Nations or member nations of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. These comprise the support that WFP corporately provides to ensure transparency and accountability across all its operations. This is crucial, for instance, in ourprocurement processes, where the involvement ofWFP’s HQ and Regional Bureau allows for the correct check and balance across any money that is spent to reach our beneficiaries. ISC funds cover investments in corporate systems and other capabilities essential to keep WFP at the cutting edge of humanitarian and development assistance, including in critical areas such as vulnerability assessment and mapping; programme design, planning and implementation;supply chain management and logistics; resource management; social protection; food tracking and accountability; monitoring and evaluation; reporting and management of programme output and outcomedata; accountability to affected populations/beneficiaries; among others.
These allocations also facilitate investments in robust information and communications technology to facilitate the day-to-day work of WFP operations across the world.
Additionally, ISC allocations allow WFP HQ to provide legal, auditing, compliance and other services to country offices; as well as guidance, oversight and other support in critical functional areas such as Programme, Logistics, Procurement, Finance, Human Resources, Administration, Information and Telecommunications, Security, Communications, Monitoring and Evaluation, among others. These will prove essential to the successful delivery of the COHFSP.