Liberia’s First Eco Brigade Launched in the City of Robertsport
Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount – The Government of Liberia, through the Environmental Protection Agency on Saturday, September 11, launched Liberia’s first eco brigade named “Piso Eco-Brigade”.
The Piso Ecobrigade was organized by the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL), an environmental civil society organization contracted by the Government of Liberia through the Livelihood & Employment Creation project implemented by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry with support from Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Youth & Sports, Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and other government agencies, The programme is being funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The design of this program is inspired by the Government of Liberia national development plan (Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development), UNDP 5-year Country Programme Development as well as other national plans and strategies that focuses on poverty reduction through sustainable livelihood for vulnerable youth and women that is anchored on the protection of environment and green economy. The Eco-brigade program seeks to promote environmental stewardship and community driven volunteerism while creating sustainable income and livelihood opportunities for vulnerable populations (youth, women and persons with disabilities).
The overall objective of this initiative is to mentor youth and women including persons with disability to take up environmental stewardship in their communities through incentivized schemes that provide income and livelihood opportunities to promote sustainable commitment and leadership in addressing local environmental issues.
This Eco Brigade Program will comprise the following key interventions: Conservation and monitoring of the river catchments, lakes and forest reserves; establishment of green corridor in urban open spaces (planting of coconut and other fruit trees) which serves environmental/beautification function while offering income opportunities for the community; restoration/afforestation of degraded forest and high risk and fragile landscapes; supporting municipal waste management and monitoring; promotion and management of related tourism sites
Welcoming the guests to the city of Robertsport, Mayor Edwin Korha highlighted the historical and cultural significance of Grand Cape Mount County and the City of Robertsport, welcoming Liberians and the world at large to come and experience the amazing biodiversity, beaches and culture of the county. He called on members of the brigade to own the initiative and give it their all to encourage more support from the government and its partners.
Launching the initiative and proxying for the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh, the Deputy Executive Director of the EPA, Randall Dobayou II recognized Grand Cape Mount County as the vacation capital of Liberia because of its natural tourist attraction sites, emphasizing “the ecological value of this place cannot be replaced or compared to anyplace in Liberia,” while challenging the eco brigade to use the 2003 Environmental Protection & Management Law as their guiding principle and authority referencing section 5.4 of the law that –“ every Liberian citizen has the right to a sustainable healthy and a productive environment and thereby, anybody whose actions prevents you from enjoying that right, that person has committed a crime against your environmental and can be sued…”
He continued: “If in your community people think that you are just operating because you have a jacket on, your response should be no but rather, you are effectuating the laws of Liberia; that same law allows you to invoke the police if someone is destroying the environment as well…”
Making remarks, the Executive Director of SCNL, Michael Garbo thanked the Government and UNDP for affording his organization to lead the pioneering initiative in the country and committed to remaining engaged with the Piso Ecobrigade in terms of monitoring their work and providing them the mentorship and guidance needed.
Also making remarks, the Resident Representative of UNDP-Liberia, Stephen Rodriques stated that he particularly was grateful to be in the historic city of Robertsports, along the shores of the Lake Piso and having the opportunity to witness the wonderful waves of Robertsport that has gained so much international attention from surfers and beach lovers around the world.
“Our presence here today is a testament of our support and commitment to community driven service to nature and the environment,” stated Rodrigues while applauding the diverse members of the brigade that included persons with disability and young women and men.
The UNDP Rep assured members of the brigade of UNDP continuous support but at the same time challenged them to make good use of the business training received as well as the start-up grants of US$400.00 each member of the eco brigade is expected to receive.
Representing the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mawine G. Diggs, the Deputy Minister for Small Business Administration, challenged the eco brigade team to make good use of the livelihood grant by investing in rewarding business schemes that will enable them to upgrade their status in society, noting that the inspectorate of the Ministry will regularly monitor how said grants will be managed.
Making a statement on behalf of the Piso Eco-Brigade, the captain of the brigade, Hassan Perry appreciated UNDP and all of its partners for the knowledge acquired on how to startup and manage small business to sustain the members of the group while protecting the environment.
“We the ego brigade sincerely pledge to work together in making sure that in a few months from now Robertsport will be one of the best tourist sites where people from around the world will come and pay money in government revenue,” stated Perry.