Liberian Journalist Watkins Wants African Governments, Liberia to develop Post COVID 19 Recovery Plans


MONROVIA – A Liberian journalist and founder of the Watkins Initiative for Nations (WIN), Mr. Y. Solomon W. Watkins has called on Governments of Africa, especially Liberia to begin to prepare for the resuscitation of the nation’s economy by introducing a robust post Coronavirus or COVID-19 plan to bring about sustainable growth, development and prosperity to citizens of Africa’s Oldest Independent Republic, Liberia.

Liberia was hit by the 2014 deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which took away the lives of about 4,810, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 2014-2016 Ebola Outbreak In West Africa Factsheet, thus leaving back huge economy challenge on the country. While the nation economy recovery has reached the stone due to uncertainty in the past two years in declining mining exports and rising inflation and currency depreciation. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, after declining to 0.4% in 2019, the World Bank has projected for Liberia to recover to 1.6% in 2020, underpinned by mining, forestry, and agriculture. 

According to Mr. Watkins, it would be difficult for Liberia to achieve the 1.6% GDP growth amidst the COVID -19 pandemic and its current consequences which Liberians are still confronted with in the absence of a post national plan.

The 2014 Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) Best Health Reporter Award Winning Journalist and founder of the Watkins Initiative For Nations (WIN), a pro-democracy and community development and empowerment organization which has been doing a lot in buttressing government of Liberia efforts in fight against COVID-19 said, while the focus is presently on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, there is a serious need for African nations, especially Liberia to embark on the development of national plans to help resuscitate its economy.

Mr. Watkins holds to the view that all Africans nations are currently affected by the presence of COVID-19 in about 99.9% of African countries on the continent. 

“Although Africa’s economic outlook continues to brighten in recent years, its real GDP growth, estimated at 3.4 percent for 2019, is projected to accelerate to 3.9 percent in 2020 and to 4.1 percent in 2021. We can’t get there with the negative impact of COVID -19 just experienced on the African Continent, with our Africans prioritizing the development of resilience post COVID-19 plans that will boost Africa’s economic. Already, countries which were in the lead for Africa’s economic growth among the world’s 10 fastest growers which are Rwanda, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Tanzania, and Benin, are terribly stricken by COVID-19.

“Instead of focusing only on the current challenge we are facing, our governments, international and international partners must, however, start to think about how we can prepare to rebuild or put in place measures that will help resuscitate our economy through the development of a robust post COVID-19 recovery plan that will bring about sustainable growth, development and prosperity to the people of Africa, that Liberia no exception,” Mr. Watkins noted.

Mr. Watkins made the called on Sunday, April 26, 2020 when spoke with journalist while distributing among communities within the Congo Town Township in Montserrado County, Liberia, jackets that will help distinguish COVID-19 Community Taskforce from the National COVID-19 Response Team.

Since the outbreak of the virus in Liberia, if not all, communities in Montserrado County and other COVID-19 affect counties have instituted innovative measures for fellow residents and/or commuters to consistently and correctly wash their hands or use disinfection materials before given entry to and from their communities/ counties. This is done through the erection of handwashing points at major intersections of communities by community volunteers who are posted there on a daily basis to enhance the implementation of health protocols that intend to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Recognizing that government has challenges in empowering all communities, the Watkins Initiative For Nation (WIN) has been very instrumental in assisting various communities across the Congo Town Township.  The Congo Town Township hosts parts of two electoral districts (districts 5&6) and an entire electoral district (district 10) in Montserrado. The Congo Town Township has been categorized as the second-high burden coronavirus affected area, especially, the Old Road Community in Montserrado County.

Bulk of the WIN interventions are currently focused on the Old Road Community as an endeavor to help curtail the spread of the virus and keep communities innocuous.

The recent jacket distribution was done in 32 communities within the Township as part of the #WIN4Liberia project launched early this year by the Watkins Initiative for Nations.