It has been a little over three months since Liberia’s first County Service Center (CSC) was dedicated, commencing a journey of taking governance closer to the people of Grand Bassa County and surrounding areas.
With funding from the European Union and managed by UNDP, the CSC is a one-stop-shop set up under the Liberia Decentralization Support Program (LDSP) to ensure that major documentation services are accessible to rural residents including Rivercess, Montserrado, and Sinoe.
At the Center, line ministries, agencies and commissions through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, oversee the processing and issuance of certificates, licenses, permits and other important documents used by various sectors of the Liberian society.
According to the Coordinator Sargacious Gardoe, between July and September, over 900 people accessed the facility, with delivery of services made in a timely manner. Briefing a fact finding team headed by the Ambassador- designate of the Government of Sweden Lena Nordstron, Gardoe reported a revenue intake of over US$10,000 over a three-month period, from service delivery being provided at the center.
He informed the team that the center focuses only on service delivery with no authorization to collect any fund. “Currently, there are nine line ministries, agencies and commissions strategically situated within the premises as service providers” Gardoe reported.
Among the services accessed, birth registration for children 0-12 years tops the list with 392, followed by psycho-social interventions at 265, business registration 106 and traditional marriage certificates 100.
The Center Coordinator mentioned that they are also engaged in routine community outreach and sensitization of the community to attract more customers to the facility. He is hopeful that over a period of five years, the CSC will become a “household name” in the area of Decentralization, provided that the needed logistics and expertise are available to sustain such initiative.
The Government of Liberia, through a European Union Grant contribution, is facilitating the actualization of County Service Centers in eight counties, under the Liberia Decentralization Support Program or LDSP managed by the United Nations Development Programme in Liberia. Other partners include USAID, UMMIL and the Government of Sweden.
The Swedish Ambassador-designate Lena Nordstron was accompanied by UNDP Country Director Kamil Kamaluddeen. She applauded progress made thus far over the first 3-month period, congratulating the staff for a job well done.
UNDP Country Director Kamaluddeen expressed appreciation for the good work being done, mentioning that the first three months have shown reduction of transportation costs for over 900 people who would have visited Monrovia to access important services.
“In the next two years, these services would have impacted the lives of many more local people taking ownership of such a program and feeling the presence of the Government close to them” Dr. Kamaluddeen noted.
The operation of the Center now reduces the struggle faced by many rural residents in accessing services related to obtaining work permits, marriage and birth certificates, land deeds, business permits and registration as well as license plates among others.