Liberia Critical Humanitarian Gaps 2008
The people and the Government of Liberia have made impressive strides since 2006 in consolidating peace and strengthening national authority. These achievements have indeed paved the way to more sustainable recovery and development. Yet, despite these advances, far too many Liberians remain vulnerable and confront acute humanitarian needs on a daily basis. These include lack of access to basic services, notably health care, safe drinking water, shelter and education. In response to the many challenges, the Government is leading efforts to formulate a Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) that will prioritise development efforts. In an attempt to ensure a more coherent response, the United Nations in Liberia has formulated the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) that advances select programmatic initiatives aligned with national priorities.
However, as is often the case in transitional situations, resource mobilisation for development is subject to delay, and adequate funding for the PRS and UNDAF will take time to come on line. In the meantime, resources are needed to ensure that the critical humanitarian gaps and needs of highly vulnerable communities during this important transitional period are addressed. However, given the global competition for humanitarian support, mobilising funding for these acute needs has proven difficult despite Liberia’s worrying demographic indicators such as ranking fifth worldwide in childhood mortality.
During the crisis and immediate post-crisis period, Liberia has relied mainly on the support of international humanitarian organisations to provide basic social services, many of which have closed operations or are scaling back in light of reduced funding. The situation in Liberia is a reminder that the international community has yet to come to grips with the humanitarian-to-development gap. It would indeed be troubling were Liberians to be worse off now with peace than they were when humanitarian aid was reaching them in the immediate post-conflict period. Steps are needed to ensure that vulnerabilities are not exacerbated in a nation that remains fragile in many respects. Additionally, if the Government and its international partners are not seen to be delivering results and improving the situation with regards to delivery of basic services and justice, this may impact on the Liberians’ confidence in their Government and its institutions.
Against this background, the Government of Liberia and the humanitarian community have agreed on the need to highlight the most critical humanitarian gaps (CHG) in Liberia and mobilise resources to respond. This document presents 19 high-priority projects valued at $27.9 million in the sectors of Health, Food Security, and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). These sectors have been particularly underfunded in previous humanitarian appeals. A small Liberia Humanitarian Response Fund (LHRF), to be administered under the direction of the Humanitarian Coordinator in collaboration with the Government and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Country Team, is also proposed to ensure flexible and rapid response to unforeseen emergencies and critical residual gaps. The LHRF will add value to the CHG priorities by enabling quick action in the event of sudden emergencies.
Liberiahas benefited from the ongoing Humanitarian Reform process. As one of the first countries to embrace the cluster approach and to support the formation of strong government-led sector groups, Liberia exemplifies a partnership among the Government, donors, UN agencies, NGOs and the Liberia Red Cross Society. Drawing on this partnership, the humanitarian stakeholders, working under the overall guidance of the Humanitarian Coordinator and the IASC Country Team, have carefully considered and prioritised the projects presented in this CHG.
The CHG’s projects have been determined to have the most significant impact on the well-being of the most vulnerable communities. In addition, these projects will play a role in advancing efforts to lay the foundation for recovery and development. These projects also build upon successful work in Liberia supported by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in 2006-2007 as well as benefit from the strengthened collaboration and joint analysis fostered by the CERF prioritisation process. It should be noted that the prioritisation exercise in Liberia focused on the most critical needs in a limited number of sectors, in particular those that have been underfunded in the past. The overall target population to benefit from the 19 proposed interventions is estimated to be in excess of two million Liberians, with a particular focus on the least-served communities in the southeast of the country.