Accountability Lab Liberia Announces Liberia’s Coronavirus Crisis Response Project

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MONROVIA – Accountability Lab Liberia, a leading civil society organization, is launching Liberia’s Coronavirus Crisis Response project, today, June 19, 2020, at 10 am Liberian time. This will be streamed live via Liberia Broadcasting System – LBS (FM 99.9) from the Lab’s offices on Carey Street, Monrovia. The launch signals the official start of a Coronavirus Response Project for the country, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The work comes off the back of ongoing efforts by AL Liberia to debunk rumors and ensure greater accountability within the country’s response to Covid-19 through weekly bulletins. The bulletins ensure that essential, validated information reaches citizens, and help in curbing the potential for social conflict.

They also serve as a response to reimagine the public health system, strengthen the relationship between citizens and those in power, and improve governance. The launch is also an opportunity to raise awareness and explain the goals and objectives of Liberia’s Coronavirus Crisis Response project, which are:

  1. To create a system of accountability and transparency around the COVID-19 donations and the effective and efficient use of the funds and materials provided by donors and government;
  2. Demonstrate responsible governance to the public and various partners and donors that will increase public trust, especially in light of the tainted reputation of Ebola funds being mismanaged and alleged fraud.

Today, Accountability Lab Liberia’s Country Director is sharing the stage with the UNDP Deputy Resident Director for Programme, a member of the Coronavirus Taskforce/NPHIL/MOHSW, and representatives from other leading civil society organizations working on governance issues.

This launch is also announcing an advocacy campaign geared towards making the government account for all donations (cash and non-cash items) received for fighting this Coronavirus pandemic.  Key media outlets have been contacted and are present here today for disseminating the message to the public. A written and printed statement will be distributed after the program launch to the media present, civil society organizations, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH), National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), the Coronavirus Taskforce, UNDP, WHO, the Diplomatic Community, donor organizations including USAID, the EU, human rights organizations, and the public. This project and activities encompass amongst others, five keys accountable actions that Accountability Lab Liberia is asking the government to implement: 

  1. That the government sets up an independent oversight body to review all spending periodically on coronavirus operations;
  2. Develop and widely circulate a logical whistleblowing mechanism for safe reporting on the coronavirus fund expenses;
  3. Ensure transparent contracting and procurement processes adhering to international and Liberia’s PPCC standards on all spending related to the COVID-19 response;
  4. Institute a periodic and comprehensive reporting to the public on the progress with the use of coronavirus funding;
  5. Conduct an independent audit of all government bodies and agencies including private contractors that receive coronavirus funding.

 The Liberia Coronavirus Response Project runs over six (6) months with a  focus on:

  1.  Coronavirus Civacts Campaign Using the Social Media – Previously known as Citizen Helpdesks, Accountability Lab Liberia’s Civic Actions Teams will ensure an open, inclusive and people-powered pandemic response, through a team of volunteers, deployed across the 15 counties, to gather information; rumors, concerns, and questions from citizens about the coronavirus outbreak (using WhatsApp groups, social media, calls in communities, and media sources) and through organized data collection process using android phones and tablets.
  2. Coronavirus CivAct Campaign-Tracking and Reporting on the COVID-19 Cash and Non-Cash Donations – In collaboration with other civil organizations and the umbrella unit of the civil society, Accountability Lab Liberia will vigorously lead an advocacy campaign to ensure that the Government and the appointed COVID-19 Taskforce ensure accountability of all COVID-19 donations. This will include the CivAct approach and CFAs to collect information on cash and non-cash items donated to the government; including health facilities, line ministries, and agencies, county authorities, but also private companies contracted to provide goods or services. It will cover all the nine (9) COVID-19 affected counties; Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Kru, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, Rivercess, and Sinoe.
  3. Outreach and Engagement-Beyond the press conference, the Lab will reach out to engage key actors in the COVID-19 management structure, including the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), the Ministry of Health, and Social Welfare (MOHSW) and the COVID-19 Taskforce. The intention is to advocate for and get support into the five accountability tenants earlier mentioned.
  4.  Data Collection and Dashboards Reports- Using our network of CFAs in the counties, the Lab will engage 19 CFAs across the nine affected counties to be involved in data collection. Three CFAs will be selected to cover Montserrado County and two each for the remaining eight counties. A monthly dashboard report will show the progress of the Coronavirus cash and non-cash tracking. The data will be collected in real-time on all the funds and non-cash items (medical supplies, materials, equipment, etc.) donated to the government or approved by the government and given to NPHIL, MOHSW and the National COVID-19 Taskforce for use to fight the pandemic.
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