Distinguished Members of the Media, our Partners in Progress, Donors, and the Public.
On November 10, 2022, the Liberia International Non-Governmental Organization (LINGO) Forum, a network of more than 50 International NGOs working across the Republic of Liberia convened a cross-section of members for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Monrovia. The theme of the 2022 AGM was “Putting Locally Led Initiatives at the Core of Liberia’s National Development Plan” to help define and advocate for a shared spirit of localization across LINGO members and our sphere of influence in Liberia.
The event’s highlight was a panel discussion on Localization with key members of the donor partner community, civil society, and the Government of Liberia:
- Augustus J. Flomo; Deputy Minister for Economic Management – Ministry of Finance and Development Planning
- Hawa Dunor-Varney; Founder & CEO – Women in Agriculture for Sustainable Development (WASUDEV)
- Jeroen Witkamp; Head of Cooperation – European Union Delegation to Liberia
- Johan Romare; Head of Development Cooperation – Embassy of Sweden
- Michelle Barrett; Director, Program and Project Development Office – USAID Liberia
During this session, panelists from donor partners, the EU, the Embassy of Sweden, and USAID, shared deep insight into progress on localization to date, and how their respective agencies were working to align to the spirit of localization, with a focus on the engagement of national and local civil society partners. From streamlined grants opportunities designed specifically for local partners to stressing the importance of civil society to good governance to emphasizing goals to increase support allocated directly to local partners, the panelists demonstrated a shared spirit of commitment to localization. There was also recognition that localization moves beyond national-level NGOs to media engagement, private sector and government, among other key mechanisms. There was also a call to action for INGOs to bring program design processes closer to the communities we serve and the partners with whom we work, as well as to ensure higher levels of equitable funding to national NGOs.
Donor partner representatives listened intently as Dunor-Varney detailed her ambitions for localization in Liberia – she spoke on the importance of working with national actors, the courage and commitment of national NGOs, and the potential for their contribution to the country’s development. She highlighted recommendations for international actors to develop concrete actions that can be monitored, and for the GOL to create opportunities for national actors to mobilize resources.
Honorable Minister Flomo expressed support for national civil society engagement and the grounding principles of localization, expressing that between 10-11 billion USD of development funding has passed through Liberia since 2013. “How much has been implemented through local partners to change the lives of individuals?” What legacy does that funding have? He asked the key questions of importance to all development actors. Minister Flomo also highlighted the National Aid Policy that seeks to increase transparency and accountability for funds that are allocated to Liberia, alongside the Decentralization Act that systematically looks to move and decentralize power to communities.
The LINGO Forum members and Coordinating Committee’s Chair Aisha Lai expressed the changes over the past year in better coordination and collaboration with the MFDP. However, she noted that there is a trend of increasing compliance reviews and at times challenging penalties for INGOs working through complex tax regulations. She expressed that the development community, including INGOs, sees itself as a partner to the GoL and the PAPD pillars. INGOs have a strong commitment to ensuring that every dollar possible goes to benefit the Liberian community through our program activities; however, at times, this becomes conflated with tax regulations that do not necessarily acknowledge that INGOs work for the benefit of all Liberians. She expressed the hope for better collaboration in the future.
The LINGO AGM also allowed the opportunity for INGOs to speed network – gain from the experience of others and meet the shared challenges they face. The LINGO AGM also highlighted the achievement of LINGO to date and the planned course of action for 2023. Notably, LINGO strengthened its collaboration and coordination with key government agencies, including the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Liberia Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Labor – relationships LINGO intends to continue to strengthen in the coming years. LINGO members provided financial support to the online accreditation and reaccreditation process spearheaded by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to increase efficiencies in the current system and ensure interested civil society partners are able to apply for and receive re/accreditation in a timely manner.
LINGO Coordination Committee expressed its profound thanks to the participants and speakers and its appreciation to the AGM 2022 planning committee. LINGO also thanks the Government of Liberia and its partners and donors for the level of trust, collaboration, and support to INGO members/organizations operating and supporting the localization drive in Liberia. LINGO looks forward to continued collaboration as the FORUM strives to build a more resilient Liberia.
For additional information about LINGO, please contact Mr. Hilary Sims at [email protected]