The Natural Resources Management (NRM) coalition, supported by the USAID-Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative (LAVI) officially launched its maiden information gathering report in the country.
The launch of the Information Gathering Exercise (IGE) on April 19, 2017 in Monroviawas attended by diverse participants drawn from the executive and legislative branches of government, international institutions, coalition and network of civil society organizations, the private sector and the media.
The exercise is geared towards increasing public awareness among citizens and policy makers to lay the basis for advocacy for necessary changes in the management and administration of the county social development fund (CSDF).
In her closing statement, Milica Panic, USAID chief of party indicated that over the year, USAID-LAVI continues to support the NRM coalition made of eight renowned CSOs to improve the management, governance and the participation of the citizens in the administration of the CSDF.
She named the eight civil society organizations as the Platform for Development and Peace (P4DP), Liberia Media center (LMC), Development Education Network (DEN-L), National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAYMOTE), Institute for Research and Democratic (IREDD), Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI, Rural Human Activist Program (RHRAP) and Citizens United to Promote Peace and Democracy in Liberia (CUPPADL).
According to her, each of the CSOs in the coalition with varying specialty implemented an information gathering activity at the national and county levels from November-December 2016. Five CSOs conducted the information gathering research across the 15 counties with similar research conducted with central government and other at national-level stakeholders based in Monrovia while DEN-L and LMC conducted CSOs and media capacity assessment.
“The objective of the IG exercise was to identify issues surrounding the monitoring and management of CSDF in Liberia and to draw out challenges and opportunities related to advocacy, transparency, accountability, and enhance participation of citizens in CSDF decision-making” she added.
“This community-based research aided the coalition in identifying potential policy reforms to improve the management of the fund, which will inform their priority advocacy activities. By promoting reforms supported by evidence collected from communities and key stakeholders, the NRM Coalition will be better equipped to influence policy changes at both local and national levels that will enhance citizen engagement in the monitoring and management of the fund and make its allocation process more transparent and accountable to community needs,” the statement maintained.
Interestingly, the statement added that a thorough desk review and validation workshop by NRM coalition identified four key themes related to the CSDF to include management and administrative failures, a lack of accountability and weak civil society, poor transparency, and lack of citizen awareness and participation.
The statement further indicated that the official launch of the maiden report places public spotlight on the ongoing activities of the civil society organizations, NRM coalition and concession projects at national level and to begin the engagement process with key policy makers to identify different policy options that would ensure the appropriate management of the county social development fund.
Speaking earlier, USAID mission director Dr. Anthony Chan lauded the participants for honoring the invitation to form part of the launch and he expressed gratitude to the eight civil society organizations for the initiative.