In 2012, the government of Liberia, following a nationwide consultation with citizens crafted what is now known as “Liberia Rising 2030”- a development roadmap that inculcates a clear vision of where the citizenry wants the country by the year 2030. The visioning data guide government’s efforts for national reconciliation and development.
According to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the document which came out of the consultative process, guides her administration in building a more equal, just and prosperous society. Almost four years later, the Liberian government convened a national development summit to appraise what has been achieved since beginning of the visioning exercise. “This is a unique opportunity for all of us to see how much we have done through research and evidence based data collection,” President Johnson-Sirleaf said. She emphasized that her administration will ensure that these data are taken to the people through aggressive media engagements for those who were not able to attend the summit in central Liberia adding “this is intended to make sure that everyone knows how far the country has come in terms of development.” The summit evaluated key interventions in the framework of the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) and Liberia rising 2030 National Vision as well as the Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan (ESRP). The three documents represent government’s development policy and response to recent crises and economic shocks the country has encountered. The summit which was jointly held by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the Governance Commission (GC) brought together development partners, civil society organizations, members of the disable community, chiefs, students among others. At the summit, the government signed a landmark agreement with the National Council of Civil Society Organizations articulating the framework and mutual expectations of their future interaction. “This action, done before the county superintendents, chiefs, women, youth leaders and representatives of the private sector, civil society, and the disabled from each county gathered in Gbarnga will signal the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration’s continued commitment to inclusive and democratic government,” the document states. Speaking at the summit, the Chairman of Governance Commission, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer said there were some missteps in the crafting of the constitution of Liberia by making the position of Assistant Minister a politically appointed post. According to him, a strong civil service is the pillar of strong governance system adding that Assistant Minister position should be the first top level civil service position. The former interim head of state took responsibility for the error because he was a member of the committee that prepared the Constitution of Liberia. For his part, the National Coordinator of Liberia Development Alliance and Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara M. Konneh said although the government has not achieved all of its targeted objectives, there was still a lot to celebrate considering the level of progress made over the midterm period which was reviewed at the summit. Presenting the findings from the midterm review, Minister Konneh stated that the government of Liberia, over the reporting period has invested US$152.9M in Agriculture; US$1.32BN in roads; US$751.3M in energy and US$124M in ports (air and sea). He added that an estimated US$256M in revenue from these investments is expected to be generated. Notwithstanding the investment in Agriculture, he admitted that the challenge remains the fact that Liberia is still heavily reliant on imported rice. “We need to grow our own rice in order to avoid the impact of external shocks in the economy,” he added. On the investment in roads, the LDA National Coordinator said 1,010 kms of road to be paved or with pavement on-going between 2006-2017; 732 km of roads set for completion by late 2017; 700 plus km of crucial primary roads with feasibility studies (Salayea-Mendikorma, Ganta-Harper, & Buchanan-harper); 1,500 km rural feeder roads rehabilitated and 476.7 km of roads paved to date. On Education, Minister Konneh indicated that 404 teachers in the disciplines of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Mathematics were recruited by the Ministry of Education (MOE); 8,390 teachers, administrators and PTA members trained in pedagogy and psychosocial counseling skills with UNICEF’s support in September, 2015. In spite of the relative progress in the education sector, Konneh pointed out that is “a large number of school age children still not enrolled and there are serious lapses in the implementation of free primary education.” Additionally, he reported that life expectancy at birth increased to 60 years; adult literacy rate, 55%; 2014 Human Development Index increased to 0.412 from 0.239 in 2011 (UNDP-HDR 2014); major reduction in malaria incidence, from 38% to 21% in 2013; malaria prevalence in Monrovia dropped by 55% from 15.7% in 2011 to 7.1% in 2013 (Liberia Health System Assessment Report 2015); reported malaria deaths dropped from 2,500 in 2011 to 500 in 2013, according to the Liberia Health System Assessment Report 2015. Commenting on the challenges in the health sector, Minister Konneh highlighted the “shortage of health workers; high attrition and demotivation; lack of a performance management system; weak care standards and infrastructure; none of the 396 health facilities assessed during the 2013 annual accreditation exercise of the implementation of the EPHS met the minimum standards (2013 EPHS on Final Report) and serious lapses in implementing free health care policy.” The outgoing Finance and Development Planning Ministry boss also emphasized that the government is cognizant of the challenges that abound but progress will require the collective efforts of every citizen.