Monrovia – The Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Monday signed a US$2 million contract with a Ghanaian company — “Esoko” — to collect social data in four counties Nimba, Bong, Bomi and Maryland Counties.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
The contract is a six-month project funded by the World Bank through USAID. Data collected will help inform government on the number of extremely poor and food insecure household and where there is lack of social services that would qualify people for social cash transfer as it is being done in Maryland and Grand Kru Counties.
According to Gender Minister Williametta Saydee –Tarr, the data collected under this contract will also be largely used for social development by government and its partners.
“This is the first time in Liberia that government will set up a data registry specifically dedicated to social data information issues. For us this is what the pro-poor agenda is about,” the Gender Minister stated.
In 2013 the Government of Liberia launched an interim five-year strategy, the Agenda for Transformation (AfT), which identifies social protection as a key aspect of the Government’s development agenda.
The aim for this sector is to improve protection for the poorest, most vulnerable households and groups from poverty, deprivation and hungry and enhance resilience to risk and shocks.
Social Registry (SR) is an information system that includes data as well as MIS function to transform that data according to basic business processes for delivering social assistance. In particular, SR will gather information on both potential and actual beneficiaries of existing Social Protection (SP) programs which include development of database architecture to house the SR, data collection and household registration, including intake into the SR, an accurate eligibility screening mechanism to access the poverty and food insecurity conditions of household.
The activities will help to establish the key building block of a basic national safety net delivery system and provide income support to households who are both extremely poor and food insecure in Liberia.
The system established is expected to benefit other government social protection programs, as well as interventions opened by collaborating development partners. The SR likewise assists in tracking the overall coverage of the SP sector through the monitoring of the types and amounts of benefit across vulnerable populations through different SP programs managed by the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MGCSP), other Government entities, or Development Partners.
According to Gender Minister Tarr, the rationale of SR is to improve efficiency, effectiveness and expand the coverage and scope of social protection interventions. It can also serve as an instrument for data integration and information management across programs to achieve the desired harmonization and coordination of the Social Protection System in Liberia.
The Minister also said the purpose of building the SR is to consolidate into a single, common database, structured and organized key information about current and potential beneficiaries of social programs, in order to create single entry point for the citizens to access the main social protection programs.
In addition, although food insecurity has improved compared to 2006 levels, it still remains unacceptably high. About 41 percent of the population is severely food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity. 19 percent of children are underweight, and 35 percent of mortality in children aged under five years is related to malnutrition. In Liberia, food insecurity is both transient, in that it is linked particularly to the Rainy Season, and chronic, since it is often due to low productivity and production among rural communities. Women play a key role in household food production—they constitute over half of the labor force in agriculture and are reported to produce over 60 percent of the country’s agricultural output.