LP Statement of Principles: Roads, Agriculture, Healthcare, Education, Water/Sanitation, Energy

Smart Growth for Road Infrastructure

 

Liberian roads are classified as primary, secondary or feeder roads based on the political subdivisions they connect. They may also be classified in terms of their strategic and economic importance to the country as arterial, collector and local roads.

Arterials are primary roads designed for mobility and meant for uninterrupted movement of goods and services between major activity centers. Local roads and streets provide access to residential developments and various categories of land uses. Collectors connect local roads with primary road corridors while balancing the need for access and mobility. This systematic classification of roads, based on function, enables decision makers to effectively allocate resources and engineers to design for the appropriate land uses.

Such mindset is Liberty Party’s approach to developing road infrastructure. It is practical, does not defy common sense and, most importantly, it is long overdue for moving development from policy to implementation. Liberty Party’s approach to road infrastructure development also emphasizes building technical capacity of Liberians in both the public and private sectors. It utilizes a systematic process of road development that clearly defines the roles of major stakeholders.

 

Key Road Networks in Liberia
Monrovia St Paul Riv-Klay-Lofa Bridge-Mano River                                   131.3 km

Red Light – 15th Gate-Ganta-Guinea Border                                                            241

Ganta-Saniquellie-Zorgorwee-Louguatuo (Border to Ivory Coast)               81.4

Kakata-Bong Mines                                                                                        29

Robertsfield-15 Gate                                                                                                 30.2

Madina-Bomi-Robertsport                                                                              41.4

Klay-Sinje-Bo Waterside,Mano River Bridge (Sierra Leone Bord.)              79.3

Gbarnga-Belefanai-Voinjama-Foya-Mendikoma (Sierra Leone Border)       281

Voinjama – Bolongadi (Guinea Border)                                                         16.4

Ganta-Saclepea-Tappita-Pouh Town-Zwedru                                                215.1

Tobli-Ivory Coast border                                                                                10.3

Zwedru-Kalowia-Kanweakan-Gbaebo-Sweken-Fishtown-Harper                264.4

Harrper-Fish Town                                                                                          32.2

Pleebo – Blebo – Barcleyville                                                                          76

Buchanan-Gio Town, Yarkpa Town, Cestos River, Greenville                      202.7

Mile 20-Juarzon-Sapo -Pyne Town-Bambli                                                    140.6

Yarkpa Junction – Cestos City                                                                        31

Kanweaken – Geeken-Norkwia Junction-Norkwia-Sasstown                        86.3

Kanweaken – Glofaken                                                                                   35.8

Monrovia-Schefflin-Harbel – Farmington River-Buchanan                122.3

Kunyan-Barclayville-Grandcess                                                         46.4

Big Swen – Grand Cess                                                          13.9

Seikempa-Yekepa                                                                   29.5

Zorgowee – Duolay                                                                 28.7

Harper-Cavalla                                                                        16.6

Uni. Farm – Bensonville                                                         14.9

Warda – Fendell                                                                      3.2

Barclayville – Picnicses                                                           10.3

Glofaken – Karloken                                                               28.9

Vision for Road Infrastructure Development

Development of road infrastructure is heavily dependent on good policy, resources and technical capacity. As an investment, its sustainability is dependent upon economic feasibility. When reasonable rates of return are assured, highway networks become self-sustaining and when policymakers work with technical professionals for effective resource utilization, Liberian roads will not become a drain on the national budget but the single most development to put the country on sound economic footings.

The drivers of this process will not be politicians but Liberia’s own engineers and scientists, implementing data driven policies championed by their leaders. Liberty Party Government will seek innovative funding methods, including public-private partnerships, for road infrastructure development.

 

Road Development

Liberty Party recognizes that development and maintenance of a national network of highways is a process requiring several specialized civil engineering disciplines working in collaboration with planners, policymakers, politicians, ordinary citizens and business owners. Liberty Party also recognizes that chaos is easily introduced to this process to the detriment of the entire economy, when the process is not fully understood. This is not a ”jack of all trades” process! It requires that all key players fully understand their roles, the complementary skills of others, and the value of interdependency amongst competent professionals.

Liberty Party has a new paradigm for road development utilizing a process which clearly defines the responsibilities of stakeholders (policymakers, politicians, citizens, funding institutions and technical professionals), allowing engineers to be in the driver’s seat with respect to technical matters.

Road Ownership and Responsibilities

The development of national highways is a shared responsibility amongst the national, county and city governments. To effectively utilize the nation’s limited technical capacity, all issues related to policy, standardization, planning, programming and design will be handled at the national level under a Liberty Party Government. The actual management of the system, construction and maintenance will be the responsibilities of county and municipal authorities where the physical infrastructure exists.

Although ultimate authority including fiscal responsibility lies with the national government, more responsibilities will devolve to local officials as their capacity to manage local networks increases. This process will be by a plan strategically designed by the Liberty Party-led government in support of decentralization. To manage growth, effectively utilize resources, and turn roads into true economic boosters, a Liberty Party Government will implement a three-tier system of decision-making and road ownership responsibility to be devolved over time:

  •  National Highway System (owned by the state and managed by counties)
  • County Roads (owned by the state, managed by counties, ownership responsibility devolved to the counties over time with subsidy from the national government as needed)
  • Municipal Roads (owned the by state, managed by municipalities, ownership responsibility devolved to the municipalities over time with subsidy from the county and national governments as needed)

The national government will work with counties and cities to develop comprehensive transportation plans (CTP) from which projects may be selected for funding under a national transportation improvement program.

 

Highways for Land Uses

As roads are classified by functional classification for systematic approach to their development, management and maintenance so is land development classified in terms of land uses allowed within zoning districts. Improving the quality of life for our people is seen by Liberty Party as a right by virtue of their citizenship. Under a Liberty Party-led government, national development will be systematic and the allocation of scarce resources will be strategic.

Roads are built to serve people in every aspect of daily living. Land uses such as commercial, industrial, agricultural and residential are connected by roads. The location of schools, hospitals, parks and recreational facilities, various types of businesses and industrial facilities, hotels, homes, residential communities, and agricultural outposts are specified in land use plans. The integration of transportation development with land use planning facilitates strategic as well as cost effective location and design of roads.

Liberty Party will once and for all put zoning regulations to work. Effective land use classification and road development are inseparable. Together they reduce poverty and ensure quality of life deserving of a resilient population neglected for so long. To facilitate highway development at county and city levels:

  • Liberty Party Government will develop comprehensive transportation plans for each county and incorporated cities. Unincorporated cities and towns with high growth potentials will be incorporated and planned.
  • Liberty Party Government will develop land use plans for incorporated cities complete with zoning maps and zoning implementation plans.
  • Liberty Party Government will, from day one, start working with local city and county officials preparing them for taking ownership of development earmarked for them by Government.
  • Liberty Party Government will work with local leaders and lawmakers, regardless of party or political affiliation, for decentralization of roads and land use management.

 

Capacity Building of Architects, Engineers and Technicians

A nation without competent local capacity is like a ship without a compass. The most valuable resource blessed upon Liberia is its human capital. Failure to harness its true potential – 4 million strong – is a concession to eventual failure of a people.

To build a properly functioning market, train an architect to design the building, train an engineer to build it, train market women to use it and support them with the entrepreneurial skills to run successful businesses. To build highways, train engineers for the task and give them the opportunity to practice their profession. Failure to educate and develop the skills of your people to fend for themselves puts the nation at the mercy of others. Any development strategy that relies wholly and primarily upon experts from abroad cannot be a sustainable winning strategy.

A Liberty Party government will invest in capacity building for architects, engineers and technicians in public sector employment as well as those in the private sector. Technology applies science to improve the quality of life and those in scientific disciplines must constantly engage in such activities to maintain their skills. Never again must our best have to leave the country to seek professional fulfilment elsewhere. Liberty Party’s pledge to our men and women in science and technology is as follows:

  • Liberty Party Government will invest in developing the skills of all architects, engineers and technicians in public sector employment as well as those in the private sector.
  • Liberty Party Government will set aside projects for hands-on practical training of young architects, engineers and technicians.
  • Liberty Party Government will ensure constant availability of projects to keep even the best architects and engineers challenged and engaged.
  • Liberty Party Government will invest in the training of all technical practitioners in public service giving them the skills to review the work of private architectural and engineering firms providing services to the government.
  • Liberty Party Government will invest in training private sector architects and engineers with the right skill sets to better provide services before privatizing government functions to them.

Road Development Plan and Strategy

Liberia has always had well written policies and the right legal framework for many of its undertakings. On the contrary, it has consistently lacked meaningful plans for execution. There currently exists, for example, a master transportation plan, a policy document adopted into law in 2012, for which the Ministry of Public Works has neither developed department level policy and procedures nor the appropriate design standards for its implementation. The master plan now sits on shelves collecting dust while politicians play the role of engineers dictating implementation of technical projects.

Road Development Implementation Process

Liberty Party fully understands the roles of policy, policymakers and politicians as they relate to infrastructure development. Politics must stop at the water’s edge to allow engineers to make objective technical decisions free of political pressure. The road development process stipulated herein is Liberty Party’s strategy for corruption-free transparent highway delivery to the Liberian people.

 

  1. Transportation Planning (20 or 25-year planning horizon)

Comprehensive long-range transportation plan, a wish list of roads needed in the long term based on a forecast of growth potential. This long-range plan identifies future highway needs (expansion, rehabilitation, restoration, reconstruction) At this stage, lawmakers seeking the interest of their constituencies, other politicians, and special interest groups work with local city and county officials when road development plans are made.

 

  1. Programming and Resource Plan (10-year horizon)

Projects included in the long-range plan are prioritized for funding using objective criteria such as benefit/cost ratio or internal rate of return. Those with the highest rankings are selected and placed on the short-range National Transportation Program (NTIP) for funding.

The NTIP is updated every 4 or 5 years and approved by the Legislature, making it binding upon the current and future administrations. It contains a 5-year work program of Government’s commitment for project delivery and a cash-constrained 10-year budget based on revenue forecast.

 

  1. Project Development

A planning document is prepared with a set of design criteria developed for each project selected from the NTIP for which funding sources have been identified. The design criteria include such objectives as social, economic, political, and avoidance/minimization of impacts to the natural and human environments.

At this stage, public notices are issued and a public hearing is held for each project to solicit input from private citizens, businesses and special interest groups. All politics stop at this level in the infrastructure development process to allow engineers the freedom to make objective technical decisions void of political influence.

 

  1. Design

Each project is designed based on requirements set in the planning document developed at the project development stage, culminating in plans, project specifications, and estimates followed by contract documents and advertisement for bid solicitation.

This function is performed centrally in Monrovia or elsewhere to optimize the utilization of limited manpower in all specialized civil engineering disciplines required for road development.

 

  1. Construction

Each project is constructed, inspected for its compliance with the plans and project specifications, and accepted by the engineer when all contractual commitments are met. This function is reserved for local city and county construction engineers with a centralized technical and project management support.

 

  1. Maintenance

Perform routine maintenance to prolong the life of the infrastructure to ensure an economic return on this investment. When roads deteriorate to the extent that rehabilitation is no longer economically feasible, then it is reevaluated for funding and reconstructed using this process.

This function is reserved for local city and county maintenance engineers with a centralized technical support. 

Road maintenance, which is often neglected in Liberia, is extremely important to recovering the cost of highway investments. Donors and banks are reluctant to finance road projects when a maintenance program is not in place.

The effect of not following this process or something like it is evident in the quality of highways delivered to the Liberian people today. Paved roads with full depth asphalt pavements are conventionally designed to last 20 years with routine maintenance, concrete pavements last 40 years. Some paved roads built within the last five to ten years are beginning to unravel.

A cursory assessment will easily sight technical incompetence as the cause but looking deeper one will uncover that the root cause squarely lies with a political climate which makes it nearly impossible for engineers to truly practice engineering. Liberty Party Government will be committed to this and other processes as well as a level of professionalism that eliminates wasteful expenditure and ensure quality road infrastructure for Liberia.

If the current trend holds, Liberty Party Government will be left with the challenge of maintaining roads prematurely failing due to the lack of proper implementation of road infrastructure development policies. Policies do not implement themselves and politicians are certainly not the competent engineers and technicians needed to implement them.

This Liberty Party vision provides the leadership framework, a process, an understanding, and support to engineers; enabling them to build quality infrastructure for economic growth and for improving the quality of life for a deserving and resilient people.

 

Pursuing Sustainable Agriculture in Rural Liberia

Agriculture forms a major portion of all economies. It is the gateway to every country’s development. The need to improve agriculture production in Liberia is very significant. Notwithstanding, agriculture production in Liberia is very low owing to so many challenges.

Among these major challenges are lack of social protection and new technologies for farmers such as improved seeds and agricultural practices, insurance, access to credit, access to land, tenure for women and access to transportation, which has the potential to improve their lives through higher yields, better prices, lower risk, and improved nutrition.

Despite the challenges, agriculture remains the backbone of the Liberian economy. It accounts for one half of GDP in the post-war period and more than two-thirds of Liberians depend on agriculture for their livelihood (Feed The Future, 2011).

Investing in agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, high-yield seeds, and farm equipment is low among smallholder farmers in Liberia. One potential reason these inputs may not be extensively accessible in local markets in Liberia (and farmers may not have the cash on hand to purchase them just prior to planting season) is because farmers may lack information on the benefits of these inputs and how to use them; also they may not have the finance to purchase (Karlan, 2015).

Similarly, Liberian women are key players in the agriculture sector, they consist of over half of the agriculture labor force and two-thirds of the trade and commerce labor force. Their role in agriculture is very important, particularly in food crops, where they are reported to produce over half of the output; their production of cash crops is limited. Access to resources and markets is significantly constrained-across the population-but women, due to their multiple economic and domestic roles, are particularly affected. Policies and programs designed to revitalize the rural economy, including its agricultural production, processing and marketing, should consider the role of women (World Bank Gender and Development Group (PRMGE), 2010)

There are many potential solutions to these problems. Like other risky enterprises, farmers may invest more if they have access to insurance that protects them from terrible losses as well. We need to:

  • Incorporate clear-cut and well developed national policies purposely designed to encourage women and youths to study in the agricultural field. College of agriculture should reorient its entire curriculum; also include agriculture into the senior high school curriculum.

 

  • Consider the role of women as producers and market participants – their participation and representation. Improve access to land tenure – promote information on women rights to own land.

 

  • Government should encourage farmers by promoting Liberian agriculture products on the international market; as well as obtaining tariffs and tax waivers from international partners on certain agricultural products.

 

  • Improve access to finance – promote savings and credit clubs among farmers.

 

  •  Rural road rehabilitation – to help cooperatives and farmers access to markets which is necessary in sustaining commercial farming

 

  • Divide the country into the four agriculture regions and meet with farmers annually in each of those region and give them the opportunity to have a say- farmers are capable of planning their own programs and implementing it.

 

  • Local cooperatives, hands on training and development for farmers so they can transition from subsistence farming to commercial farming

 

  • Provide more scholarships to encourage students: The government of Liberia should promote agriculture as a noble profession that is respected and admired.

 

  • Create school projects to encourage young people into the agriculture field. Establish a Student/ faculty farmers or gardeners’ program centers. Focusing on three principles: Sustainable agriculture principles and practices, emphasis on in-field, experiential learning and the encouragement of student initiative, creativity and exploration in the agriculture field.

 

  • Using a robust media campaign to remove the stigma that agriculture is for the unlearned or it is a field for unsophisticated people. Instead, reinforce the value agriculture plays in Liberia and how it can be used to provide wealth for those who invest in it.

 

Strategic Health Development Plan

As the very popular saying goes, “Health is Wealth”. Therefore, in every country, the health sector is critical to social and economic development with ample evidence linking productivity to quality of health care. Liberia’s current and future prosperity is inextricably linked to the quality of healthcare available to her citizens.

However, all health indicators remain stubbornly depressed, in spite of recent gains in some areas. For example, maternal and infant mortality rates have decreased, but prevailing rates remain unacceptable. Plans for the future must acknowledge the gains accomplished while remaining vigilant in the quest for affordable, accessible, and assessable healthcare for all Liberians.

To this end, the Liberty Party proposes the following eight objectives. We are convinced that these objectives and others would elevate the quality of healthcare in Liberia, enhance quality of life for our people, and scale social and economic productivity.

 

Invest in primary healthcare delivery system, with a focus on preventive healthcare.

To achieve this objective, it is important to build and strengthen a vibrant community healthy delivery system (both public and private); create several new community health centers to boost primary health care delivery; build capacity for private community health centers. Encourage and support community participation and ownership.

 

Invest in enhancing the capacity of tertiary health institutions (i.e., JFK, Jackson Doe, etc.).

Liberia’s tertiary medical institutions suffer a perfect storm of negative factors that hinder the provision of adequate services to patients. Chief among these factors is meager supply of qualify health workers, doctors, nurses, and allied personnel. Future governments must endeavor to reduce the doctor-to-patient ratio, which stands at abominable numbers currently. The following measures would be helpful:

 

  • Train 1000 new doctors over 25 years
  • Train 10,000 nurses and allied health workers over 15 years
  • Recruit qualified clinicians from the diaspora
  • Improve laboratory and other technical services at tertiary hospitals
  • Improve clinic to hospital referral system

Invest in capacity building for healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and allied health workers.

Increase opportunities for medical school graduates to specialize through in-country and diaspora residency. Invest more corporate social responsibility funds for post-graduate medical training. Invest county and social development funds for training doctors. Enhance capacity for training of nurses and allied health workers. In addition, a review of curricula used for training all healthcare care workers is imperative. Future students in medical and nursing must be immersed in the practice of community health. Such emphasis on preventive health is necessary to combat potential epidemics.

Realign portions of county development fund and social development for healthcare.

Regional, secondary hospitals can benefit from the realignment of portions of county and social development funds for healthcare.

 

Develop regime for managing health information/data for research.

The prevailing dearth of health data for research is unacceptable. Efforts must be exerted to correct course. The Ministry of Health must assume its proper legal authority and take control of the collection, analysis, and dissemination of health informatics in the country. Currently, major INGOs collect and publish health data with an approved institutional review board system. This needs correction.

 

Establish national mental health administration.

Train additional mental health professionals to augment the work of the Carter Center. In addition, it is important to engage cultural myths about mental health in order to de-stigmatize mental disorders. The steps below would enhance quality of care for patients with mental health diagnoses:

  1.  Advocacy For people with mental health problems
  2.  Create a core Liberia works program that will include Temporary Assistance for citizens with mental health challenges. It may be necessary to means test such assistance to ensure that the most vulnerable obtain access to the program.
  3.  Training additional mental health clinicians
  4.  Include mental health courses in all medical curricula in Liberia
  5.  Examine salary structure of mental health clinicians to make the profession attractive to younger people

Strengthen social welfare administration.

We believe that national government can make significant contributions to the social welfare of her citizens. The following step could be helpful:

  1.  Manage and enforce the regulations governing Social Welfare System.
  2. License and regulate all social and human service organizations in the country and investigate all complaints and encourage everyone to report suspected violations regarding abuse.
  3. Modernizing the method of caring for the less fortunate in our society:
  • Improve regulatory regime for Orphanages to Foster Care System
  • Develop Licensing Standards for Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelters
  • Contacts For county Child Abuse and Neglect Registries

 

Establish regime for healthcare financing in Liberia.

Cost of healthcare continues to accelerate beyond the means of average Liberian. Consequently, patients and families often have to decide medical treatment and other needs. This is an unsustainable reality. Currently, out-of-pocket expenditure constitutes a significant portion of healthcare cost. It is important to consider a well-regulated and accountable national health insurance program. Such insurance program will facilitate universal access to healthcare.

Education

 

Education has always been the bed-rock for human resource development. Unfortunately, this sector has received little attention from previous Liberian governments over the last several decades. For example, only 15% of the current 2014/15 budget was allocated to education. About one third of that amount was allotted to the University of Liberia alone, leaving primary and secondary education very little to cope with the staggering demand for quality education.

As a result, our primary and secondary educational systems have collapsed, yielding student graduates who are not only unprepared for higher education, they’re ill equipped to sustain themselves above poverty levels, transform Liberia into a modern country or function in a world that is advancing so rapidly. A stark and disheartening example of the failure of our primary and secondary education was captured by the international media when all 25,000 students who took the University of Liberia entrance exams failed the exams in 2013.

 

Any effort to reform education in Liberia should answer three fundamental questions:

 

  • What outcomes do we seek?
  • What kind of citizens do we wish to produce?
  • What existing models would facilitate our objectives?

What outcomes do we seek?

  •  Ability to think and write independently
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Labor force ready graduates
  • Technologically savvy graduates, who understand the power of innovation

What kinds of citizens do we wish to produce?

  •  Active, independent participants/defenders of our democracy (civically engaged)
  • Self-sufficient, business-minded
  • Committed to public service
  • Globally engaged (world citizens)
  • Tax-paying citizens
  • Citizens who fight for strong families and communities

How will Liberty Party achieve this?

Invest in Curriculum Development/Transformation

  • Bring curriculum for primary and secondary schools into the 21st century with hands-on application of Science, Technology, English and Math.
  • Transform the current primary and secondary school curriculum to include mandatory age appropriate classes in ethics, civics and nationalism, reconciliation, debate and critical thinking, and current events (domestic and International).
  • Revise current method where high school and college students get 100% of their grades from quizzes and formal tests to include grade opportunities for group projects, field visits, and special projects.
  • Revise college and university curriculum to include activities that will prepare them for the job market upon graduation.

Invest in Teachers and Educators

  •  Salaries, incentives and a living wage for teachers and educators
  • Teacher training programs to fully equip teachers with the tools to carry out the reformed education agenda.
  • Continuing education requirements and opportunities for teachers and educators
  • Standards and accreditation to ensure recruitment of well- qualified and motivated teachers and educators.
  • Initiate a mandatory requirement for the presence of at least one certified public health practitioner (CPHP) in all schools. The CPHP will consult with school administration regarding school sanitation and health issues and will be available to consult with students to provide basic public health education. CPHP can provide such information in class or during morning school gatherings.
  • The CPHP program allows the certification of teachers or educators after they’ve gone through 4 weeks of rigorous training on health, wellness and disease prevention at an accredited health training institution.

Invest in Students and the family

  •  Affordable & quality education for all Liberians
  • Free or low cost Pre-Primary/Early Childhood Development Program (ECD) to make sure that children access the education system early to improve their chances of achieving their full potential.
  • Create work study or other tuition payment programs to help secondary and higher education students afford quality education.
  • Initiate mandatory parent teacher engagement at least once a year for primary and secondary schools.

Invest in Education Infrastructure

  •  Initiate a National Consolidated High School System and transform the University of Liberia into a university school system with branches in each county.
  • Remodel and modernize schools to create a learning environment.
  • Increase prevalence of Technical/Vocational Education and Training (TVET) trade schools to create opportunities for the acquisition of appropriate technical/vocational education and entrepreneurial skills training. 

Other Key Objectives

  • Increase the retention and completion rates for both primary and secondary education
  • Increase the number of girls accessing and completing secondary schooling.
  • Improve the quality of secondary education and the conditions of teaching and learning
  • Ensure the school environment is clean, sanitary, violence-free and sufficiently conducive for all students, especially girls.

Strategies for Key Objectives

  •  Review and revise all fees and hidden cost in school tuitions.
  • Provide additional classrooms spaces
  • Revise grade repetition policy
  • Make staying in and completing primary and secondary schools more attractive
  • Sensitization on the importance of girls acquiring secondary education
  • Make secondary schooling more attractive for girls
  • Improve the Liberian School Curriculum
  • Improve textbooks and teaching/learning materials
  • Address teacher quality issues through teacher training and incentives
  • Recruit and get more females into the teaching profession
  • Address teaching /learning environment issues
  • Develop and introduce a minimum standard guideline for primary and secondary schools
  • Provide necessary supervision, monitoring and evaluation of the education system at least every three years.

 

Water and Sanitation Intervention

 

The level and state of public potable water supply and wastewater disposal in any country is, in many ways, a measure of the health of the country. The absence of these services, or their inadequacy, results in poor hygiene practices, which in turn results in the prevalence of waterborne diseases. High morbidity, loss of economic productive time, and retarded growth of businesses are the ultimate results. Judging by Liberia’s public water supply and wastewater disposal infrastructures, the country cannot be considered a healthy nation.

In 2014, less than 10% of Monrovia’s population had access to intermittent public piped water supply. With completion of planned works, the city’s water treatment facilities would only have sufficient capacity to supply less than 50% of the city’s population; distribution capacity would be even less.

Prior to the civil war, only 10 of the 24 population centers in the country designated as urban/regional centers, beside Monrovia, had some public water supply; today, only one of those systems is operational on a limited basis. The number of centers having some service is expected to increase to 6 with completion of planned works.

Most residents in urban centers, including Monrovia, obtain their water supply from point sources such as dug wells which often have poor quality water. 100% of all unprotected wells and more than half of those protected with hand pumps tested in 2011 in Monrovia, for example, had the E. Coli bacteria1;

The sewerage system in Monrovia, consisting of approximately 70 km of collector sewers (covering only 14% of the city) of which only 20km are presently operational, is the country’s only public sewerage system. The treatment works were vandalized during the war and now lie idle.

In addition to the very low national coverage, the water and sanitation sector is fragmented, involving several government ministries and agencies. The Ministry of Public Works, for example, has primary responsibility for rural water supply, but the Ministries of Education and Health, as well as many humanitarian, non-governmental organizations are also involved in the sector. The Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) has statutory responsibility to supply pipe-borne water and provide sewerage services to urban centers (population>=5,000). But it has not been able to fully carryout its mandate because of inadequate resources.

The corporation was intended to be run as an Enterprise Fund—a self-sustaining entity having a perpetual existence—but, like many of the other SOEs, it has not been able to achieve that goal.

Fragmentation makes formulation and management of comprehensive sector strategies and setting of data-driven goals difficult; it also does not promote the efficient use of resources, both human and financial, and the solving of problems in a strategic way.

The need for coordination in the water and sanitation sector has been recognized, and since the early 1980s the government has made various unsuccessful attempts to create a coordinating body. The most recent attempt was the creation of the National Water Resources and Sanitation

Board (NWRSB) in 2013 but, as with previous attempts, the board exists only in name.

This inability to translate vision, however limited, into action has historically been one of the major weaknesses of the Liberian government. The government spends money it does not have, or uses donor funds that could be more beneficially applied, to continually develop and revise policy documents. The writing of policy and vision documents has, for the most part, become an end rather than a means to an end.

The Water and sanitation sector is not only fragmented, it is also highly centralized. All major management, operation and investment decisions for both urban and rural water supply and sanitation are driven from Monrovia. This limits the involvement of local people in the planning, operation, and management of the facilities that are intended to serve them. The result is local ownership of the infrastructure, which is critical for sustainability, is lacking.

One government study reports: “Low sense of ownership by the communities for water and sanitation facilities is highly present in both urban and rural areas due to inadequate community consultation, mobilization and promotion aimed at gaining support for developmental initiatives as well as dissemination of information. Communities are not being carried along in the planning, designing and implementation of water supply and sanitation projects2.” A Liberty Party government’s intervention in the water and sanitation sector will be guided by the following goals:

 

Effective Sector Coordination

We will prioritize review of existing and proposed institutional and regulatory arrangements for intervention in the sector with the goal to ensuring proper coordination, articulation of clearly defined responsibilities for sector actors, permitting of water and sanitation facilities and the moving from planning and visioning to implementation.

 

Local Ownership

We will seek local participation during formulation of all projects with the view to eventually devolving to local authorities through a carefully planned and executed program, the planning, management and ownership of water and sanitation infrastructures.

 

Sustainability

We will promote full cost recovery in service delivery, taking into consideration the need for a pro-poor policy, and pursuing private-public partnership where feasible—in the operation and management of public toilets and community water kiosks, for example. We will also promote the development of standards and adoption technologies appropriate for providing service to the different categories of population centers.

 

Improved Public Sanitation

We will enact policies that would make it a violation to construct buildings intended to be occupied for residential or commercial purposes without provision for an appropriate, approved wastewater disposal system. This would also apply to public places requiring continuous presence of one or more persons for more than 6 hours. We will also promote the pour-flush toilet as the minimum standard for disposal of excreta in urban centers not sewered, moving away from the pit latrine. Compliance will be ensured through an aggressive inspection regime.

Furthermore, a Liberty Party government commits to:

Water Supply for Monrovia: Expanding the Monrovia water supply and distribution system to increase coverage from the anticipated 43% of the city’s population when currently planned works are completed to approximately 90% within 5 years.

 

Water Supply for Urban Centers Outside Monrovia

Increasing public pipe-borne water supply services to urban centers outside of Monrovia from the 6 centers anticipated to receive such to 12 in 5 years; we will work with local authorities in the remaining centers to protect/improve quality of water from existing sources while planning for installation of piped systems. We will institute and support frequent testing of community water supply sources in order to identify and deal with potential problems.

 

Water Supply for Rural Communities

Supporting the installation of hand pumps and implementing periodic testing of the water supply for non-urban communities; encouraging and supporting community management and ownership of the facilities, including assuming O&M responsibilities.

 

Sanitation

Rehabilitating and expanding the existing Monrovia sewerage system to increase coverage beyond Bushrod Island, central Monrovia and Sinkor; outside of Monrovia, we commit to promoting the construction of pour-flush public toilets along with the appropriate sludge handling facilities, beginning with county capitals, as a first step towards the establishment of public sewerage systems outside of Monrovia.

 

Energy

“Light in every village and town of Liberia”

“Efficient utilization of Liberian Energy Resources”

 

Nations around the world are undergoing energy revolution. The unprecedented renaissance of new ideas and projects in developed, developing and underdeveloped countries when it comes to energy and its sources continue to remain a social, economic and political phenomena and agenda of Governments and political leaderships everywhere.

Liberia being a member of the comity of nations is in no way different or apart from confronting these energy phenomena. Energy is an essential element necessary for the development of a nation. Without the availability of energy, Liberia’s ability to do any meaningful work will cease. It requires energy to improve the healthcare and educational needs of the Liberian people. It requires energy to improve the food supply and to improve the quality of living. It also requires energy to drive the growth of industries and other forms of meaningful investments in the country.

Energy therefore must form a critical component of the agenda for a Liberty Party Government. The lack of affordable and reliable energy could pose a significant challenge to any development agenda for the country. Very few people in Liberia now have access to electricity. Liberty Party must make it a priority to ensure that its agenda focuses heavily in the energy needs of the country. By exploring and employing all available resources to address the current energy deficit that now exist in the country, Liberty Party will lead the way in putting the country on the path to meaningful growth and development.

 

Existing Energy Policy

Much has already been done in the way of research and data generation regarding the energy needs of the country. Much of this work involved input and participation of experts from the international community working along with Liberian entities. Our review of some of the documents and recommendations generated from the research and studies already conducted, indicates that the studies were not driven necessarily by the need of any particular government / administration.

The studies and recommendations are generic in nature and were funded and performed primarily to provide guidance to international entities interested in supporting the development needs of Liberia. It therefore leads us to believe that given the objective and data driven recommendations made by these expert studies, they should be utilized by Liberty Party.

There is also currently an existing Liberian government policy on energy that was developed in partnership with our international partners. The policy as it appears, seems to be very much in line with some of the recommendations that emanated from the research and studies conducted by outside experts. The policy itself is very useful and some aspects of the policy are already being implemented by the current government. What we determined is that there is a need for a clear vision and leadership to drive this policy successfully. There is also the need to thoroughly review certain aspects of the policy so that the implementation will yield the most benefit to the country. The Liberian people must be fully informed of the policy and encouraged to support it.

Energy Options

Since the understanding of most average Liberians regarding an energy policy has to do with electricity and the need thereof, we recommend that from a policy perspective, the following should constitute the primary focus of the Liberty Party energy policy:

  1.  Hydropower Generation
  2. Small Hydro Power Projects
  3. Renewable Energy Sources
  • Solar / Photovoltaic
  • Wind Turbine
  • Wood Chip / Biomass
  1. Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) Power Generation
  2. West African Power Pool (WAPP) Initiative
  3. Hydrocarbon (Oil / Gas)

 

Hydropower Generation

Although this option requires a high investment cost and takes a longer period for implementation, it provides a longer term lower cost benefit for generation of electricity. Also, Liberia is rich in water resources such as rivers and artilleries. Liberty Party Government must support the ongoing effort to rehabilitate the Mount Coffee Hydro facility and to provide the necessary resources and support needed to increase its capacity and expansion along the St. Paul River and the St. John River as per the current energy policy/plan. It is therefore necessary to revitalize and reconstruct the Mt Coffee Hydro, and to support the construction of new hydro dams in the key regions of Liberia.

 

Small Hydro Power Projects

Liberty Party Government must support the funding and establishment of small hydro projects to provide other generating capacities along the Cavalla River, The Cesstos River and other possible locations so as to ensure the availability of low cost electrical energy in various other regions of the country. Energy generated from these smaller hydro facilities can also be brought unto the Liberian energy grid.

 

Renewable Energy Sources

Liberia is blessed with enormous amount of renewable energy potential. The challenge is for us to harness these resources and to integrate them into the overall energy supply mix for the country. Renewable energy provides enormous environmental benefits such as low emission, low particulate and low waste as compare to conventional energy sources. Solar energy can be used to quickly provide street lighting and low cost lighting sources for villages and towns.

 

Liberty Party Government must support efforts geared towards current renewable energy projects and to accelerate the implementation of plans to provide solar power, wind power and biomass power into the energy mix of the country with primary focused to locations outside of Monrovia. It must also identify market based support and capital investment to secure these alternative sources by attracting both private and public investments.

 

Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) Power Generation

This source of energy is primarily used to supplement shortfalls in electricity generation during the dry season when water level for the hydro is low. But most recently has been used as a primary source of power for Monrovia in the absence of the Mt. Coffee Hydro facility. It is a much cheaper source of electrical power as compared to the higher speed diesel and gasoline generators.

 

West African Power Pool (WAPP) Initiative

This power grid initiative comprising the countries of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote D’Ivoire is one that provides the potential of importing cheaper power into Liberia since it relies primarily on hydropower and gas generation as compared to the more expensive diesel and HFO base generation. It also provides the potential for Liberia to export some of its excess power once it develops its electrical power capacity. This grid effort is already in progress and should be fully supported by Liberty Party Government.

 

Hydrocarbon (Oil / Gas)

Given the fact that most of the lucrative oil wells in Liberia have already been given out to foreign investors, it is necessary to review all existing leases and prospective leases of the ongoing oil and natural gas operations to ensure that these leases and agreements benefit the nation and its people.

 

We also recommend that Liberty Party Government reviews the current joint operating agreements/JOA and to put in place proper mechanisms to attract the needed revenue, accounting and taxations so as to ensure that it is 100% economical and profitable to the nation. Liberty party Government must therefore adopt a policy of freezing all remaining oil wells until a thorough review of existing contracts and agreements have been completed.

 

A special program must be established by the Liberty Party Government to ensure the participation and ownership of Liberians in the remaining oil wells. Liberians must be encouraged to combine resources in partnership with other Liberians and the government must provide safeguards for Liberian own investors. Liberty Party Government must develop a program to ensure the adequate training of Liberian professionals to effectively manage and maintain the Liberian energy sector.

 

By implementing the energy policy recommendations discussed herein, Liberty Party will successfully:

  • Ensure the availability of light in every village and town of Liberia;
  • Create a new and better energy future for Liberia;
  • Ensure an efficient utilization of Liberian Energy Resources;
  • Ensure an adequate supply and availability of various energy sources in the country
  • Provide an equitable environment and free market where foreign investors and Liberian investors alike can participate in the Liberian energy market;
  • Develop and grow the Liberian energy base and set Liberia on the path to sustained energy efficiency.

Where Will All the Money Come From?

Money to improve the well-being of Liberians will come from several sources under the Liberty Government because we will demonstrate the highest technical competence ever deployed by a Liberian administration. The technical competence shall be backed by the strongest political will to reform and improve the management of the Liberian public finances, aggressively tackling corruption. Specifically, the Liberty Government shall:

  • Focus on improving public expenditure management;
  • Consolidate revenue sources to reduce systemic leakages through the creation of an Independent Revenue Authority;
  • Liquidate or privatize loss-making state owned enterprises;
  • Improve Liberia’s investment climate by opening access to incentives and reduction in corruption to attract foreign direct investment;
  • Raise inflows and quality of external assistance, including for the first time ever in Liberian history, direct budget support; and,
  • Manage aid better and collaborate closely with external partners.
  • The Liberian government has multiple revenue channels including core and non-core revenues, taxes, non-tax, budget support and carry forward, and debt. Budget performance is best analyzed by comparing baselines to actual revenue and expenditures during the year under review.
  • The Liberian National Budget is one of the most important documents the Government produces yearly. The budget, once developed and approved, projects the annual income and expenditure to maintain a stable government, while providing services to its citizenry.
  • Improving the efficiency with which the Liberty government shall manage aid and closely collaborate with Liberia’s external partners will not be a knee-jerk response to pressure from the external partners, but the result of a genuine commitment to improve the standard of living of all Liberians. We will achieve all of this, as a result of improved public fiscal discipline. But first, we review the current public financial situation, focusing on recent performance affecting the government revenue and expenditure areas.

Due to breakdown in infrastructure during the civil crisis, every area requires attention. However, this paper focuses on five key pillars namely Education, Healthcare, Infrastructural Development, Security, and Electricity and Water.

  • About 75% of total revenue comes from taxes. Along with budget support, which is considered revenue, international donors also provided an additional $618.5M in project aid down from $732M in previous year. Project aid funds are separate from government funds because they do not use government accounts, but they are identified in the national budget to help government plan and coordinate all development activities.
  • FY14/15 amounts to $559M in revenue and recurrent expenditure forecasted at $435M. The revenue projection represents a US$26M reduction from the FY13/14. These savings in the core budget were spread across the sector projects and priority investments.
    • Risk to country: International donors could reduce Project aid thereby causing government to borrower more in support of social and infrastructural development. Our national budget cannot accommodate the huge demand pressure for goods, services and infrastructure.
  • 15% ($65.5M) of the nation’s budget is allotted to education with the University of Liberia deriving allotment of $10M. It is important to note that the Ministry of Education allotment for Basic Salary – Civil Service amounts to $33M.
    • Risk: The Ebola crisis caused schools to be closed throughout the country for a greater part of 2014. It would be interesting to know how these allotted funds were expended.
    • A significant portion (about 50%) of the educational budget is focused on civil servants salaries when the educational facilities are unimproved.
    • According to the World Bank, school enrollment was up 96% in 2014.

 

  • Almost 13% ($56.8M) is allotted for health care. Of this amount, JKF is the largest beneficiary of healthcare funds in Liberia. According to WHO data, there is a severe shortage of health professionals, especially medical doctors. Currently the doctor- patient ratio stands at nearly one doctor to 40,000 of the population.
  • The approved World Health Organization doctor to patient ratio is 1:600 for developing countries
  • Risk: Inadequate doctors and lack of improved healthcare facilities contribute to the high mortality rate. The country cannot boast of more than an estimated 100 medical doctors.
  • Public Administration accounts for the largest share of expenditure in the 2014/15 budget. This sector includes some key administrative units such as The National Legislature, Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, Foreign Affairs, GSA, MICAT and Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. It also includes repayments on external and domestic borrowing. This sector accounts for 34% or $146mm of the total recurring expenditures.
    • Most of such budgetary allotments are not justifiable.
    • These allotments, if carefully monitored, could curb waste in the system.
    • An evaluation of each sector/ministry budget is critical to formulating future allotments.
  • 18% ($71.5M) of the national budget is earmarked for Security and Rule of Law. Peace and Security are the fundamental pillars upon which political stability and economic prosperity stand.
    • With the expected drawdown of UN Peace keeping forces in the coming months, the nation needs to be fully prepared to protect the peace and security of the state.

 

  • State Owned Enterprise including LEC & LWSC allotments amounted to $28mm & $8mm respectively. The rehabilitation of the Mt. Coffee Hydro will be based largely to donor funds and loans secured by government. Access to electricity, water and improved road continue to serve as a major constraint to economic empowerment.
    • The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Liberia was worth $1.95 billion US dollars in 2013. The GDP value of Liberia represents less than 0.01 percent of the world economy.
    • Liberia recorded a Government Debt to GDP of 29.79 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2013. Government Debt to GDP in Liberia averaged 306.60 percent from 2004 until 2013, reaching an all-time high of 720.73 percent in 2004 and a record low of 28.08 percent in 2012.
    • The Gross Domestic Product per capita in Liberia was last recorded at $299.45 US dollars in 2013. The GDP per Capita in Liberia is equivalent to 2 percent of the world’s average.
    • The Annual Gross Domestic Product Growth Rate as reported by the Central bank of Liberia was expected to expand 5.90 percent in 2014 from the previous year. The Ebola crisis has negatively influenced this projection.

 

  • International Donor Support / budget support amounts to $618mm from $732mm in previous year.
    • Without budget support from the international community, it would be a major financial constrain on government to effectuate its developmental agenda.
    • As donors are slowly winding down, the nation needs to identify additional revenue sources to meet the social and economic demands of its citizenry.   

Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Large part of the country lacks basic infrastructure such as electricity and water supply as a result of civil wars and economic mismanagement. Yet, in recent years, Liberia’s economy has been steady expanding as mining and rubber industries have been growing. More importantly, Liberia government’s efforts to fight corruption and eliminate bureaucracy seem to be succeeding as business activity and employment have increased. However, there are major challenges facing the country.

Budget Stakeholders are encouraged to prioritize the urgent needs to the people; Electricity, water, improved infrastructure and security. It is the opinion of the committee that the 2014/2015 is replete with allotments that do not adequately address the country’s immediate needs but pays more dividends to senior government officials.

By investing in smart financing and re-prioritizing the nations resources, the road to recovery will become much wider and clearer. Due to the project scope, enough attention wasn’t given to the budget. It is the committees hope that this paper will serve as a baseline upon which political stakeholders will take a deeper dive into government’s revenue and expenditure projections.

Recommendations

  • Streamline the budget to eliminate wasteful allocation. Specific area of interest includes huge Salaries and benefits to Government employees, travel allowances, fuel consumption and departmental projects. We believe that during this recovery period, leaders need to sacrifice by reducing huge salary benefits. 

 

  • Improve the educational profile of Liberia by investing more in education. Building or re-habilitating schools throughout the country and attracting qualified teachers should be a top government priority. 

 

  • Build Capacity in the health care sector to enable the nation to be better prepared for deadly diseases. Invest more money in hospitals, doctors and nursing practitioners. 

 

  • Strengthen the security apparatus of the nation to be better prepared for UNMIL drawdown. Such strengthening must include a thorough assessment of the effectiveness of the current security agencies, with the aim of eliminating duplicity. 

 

  • Secure adequate but smart financing to restore the nation’s electricity and water to a minimal of prewar levels. 

 

  • Secure smart financing to build roads across the country. Good road network will make farm to market trading and general commerce much easier and affordable 

 

  • Recognizing that budget support is gradually decreasing, aggressively increase government core and non-core revenue by attracting more investments to the country. Improve the investment climate by reducing the bureaucracy in government. Taxing authority should be vigilant in pursuing businesses and individuals to help realize or exceed budget projections. 

 

  • Build controls or automate the tax collection process to reduce systemic fraud. 

 

  • Set a goal for all budget projections to be within 10% (Plus/minus) of actual income/expenses. 

 

  • Request and publish a quarterly performance report from all ministries and agencies receiving allotments. Closely monitor projects that are not meeting deliverables and formulate an alternative. 

 

  • Allocate additional resources to improving the nations key infrastructure; Airports, Seaports, roads and power-plants

Leave a Reply