Liberia: Transparency, Accountability, Others Top NGO Coalition Strategic Plan Dialogue
Monrovia – Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Coalition of Liberia (NCL) has elevated its strategic plan dialogue on accounts of transparency, accountability and competence as a new of management assumes office soon.
NCL is a conglomeration of local NGOs in the country who are working with similar visions geared towards elevating the livelihoods of people entrenched in poverty and creating a level playing field each between concession companies and local dwellers as well as between government and local dwellers.
In an effort to ensure the realization of its objectives and goals, a five day retreat came to an end over the weekend at NCL’s resource center in Dwazon, Margibi County with a five year strategic plan drawn in order to reengage collaborating actors and processes aimed at enhancing the proper use of natural resources.
The chairperson of the management team of NCL, Samuel Kwennah said that the 2018 round table dialogue was enriched with collective endeavors focused not only on conflict resolution in the management of natural resources but also on strengthening a peaceful coexistence among member NGOs within the coalition.
“NCL is critical to good governance in this country and as such, we are interested in seeing that there is a proper management of natural resource sectors which includes forestry, Mr. Kwennah said.
He added that there are impacts from his coalition’s engagements with communities, concession companies and government. “Through our advocacy in 2015, twenty four communities benefited from concession companies who failed to undertake their social corporate responsibilities and government also paid over US$ 1 million to the natural resource governance trust board for some developments in the areas affected.
With the funds generated from government and companies by the trust board, which is a part of NCL, a vocational center was built in Yaprpah Town, Rivercess County,” he said.
Kwennah further said that an elementary school was built in Zoegar Bayo Town in Grand Bassa County while two clinics were built were built in River Gee county. “In Grand Gedeh, we have succeeded in seeing a guest house built and two elementary schools, built from the same advocacy are functioning in Lofa,” he noted.
About how the leadership of NCL is formed, he said the general assembly of the coalition meets after every two years and elect a three member NGOs to serve the role of a management team.
Kwennah is the program manager for extractive industry and human rights program of Save my Future Foundation (SAMFU), a member NGO to the NCL.
According to him, the formation of NCL, was predicated upon a survey which showed that the conflicts, including the civil war, that erupted over the years came as a result of disenchantment over the poor management of natural resources. He noted that since the formation of NCL, with support from EU, FDA and a host of other local and international organizations, people are reasoning together even if there are tough times.
For her part, the program director at Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development (SESDev.), Mina Beyan said she is impressed with the level of collaboration existing among member organizations of NCL and hopes more success stories can be told in a short distance future.
“We at SESdev. are in the business of promoting and protecting communities’ rights in concession areas. Our goals extend to ensuring that communities in which concession companies exist have a fair benefit each of all deals involving them (communities), Madam Beyan said.
She added that her NGO also provide legal support to local communities in Grand Kru, Sinoe and a few other counties in the southeast. “Knowing that we are interested in engendering change, we advocate for government to push concession companies to live up to their commitments. The people need good roads to transport their farm products to markets, schools to educate their children, clinics for proper medical care and other social benefits necessary for elevating their living standards,” she said.
She added “We also work with government to see that its engagements with concession companies are fruitful, particularly in bringing developments to the local dwellers.”
She admonished that government should leave communities to choose their own development priorities. “Although there are laws giving more leverage to County Legislative Caucuses to decide on what kind of development is carried out in their constituencies, we think there is need for the local people to have more say in what they want; be it school, clinic or road,” Beyan said.
Also making remarks, a facilitator at Community Development Initiative (CDI), Nettie Diagor said more awareness and support are needed to help save forests and mangrove swamps from degradation.
“People think that mangrove swamps are waste land and so they throw out trash in them and abuse them in so many other different ways,” Diagor said, adding that in Grand Cape Mount where her NGO presently works with 13 communities felling of trees for charcoal burning and constant and excessive fishing at Lake Piso are on the rise.
She noted that there is no need, however, to blame the residents involved in dwindling forests by felling trees and extracting lots of fish from Lake because those means are serving as their conduits of survival. “This is why CDI is now helping them do subsistent farming (small farms for food and little cash earning for family needs). We are, in collaboration with REDD+ of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) helping them with tools to work and educating them also on how they should make their vegetable beds for a fruitful harvest.
The strategic plan dialogue workshop which was facilitated by a team of experts in natural resource management, including Sarah Thomas from the University of Wooverhampton, United Kingdom.
NCL is composed of 20 CSOs and was formed in 2003 at the Accra Peace Accord (CPA) that brought an end to the protracted civil war and shared power among the warring factions in the transitional government that ushered in former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.