Improving livelihoods Lofa County
Title: Improving livelihoods in Lofa County (districts of Kolahun, Vahun and Foya) in Liberia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture
Overall term: 2012 to 2014
Between 1989 and 2003, two civil wars raged in Liberia. The peace agreement signed in 2003 and the presence of UN peacekeeping troops for many years forged the basis for peaceful reconstruction.
Although political stability has improved in recent years, the country is marked by the fallout of the conflicts. Poverty is widespread, unemployment is high and insecure food supplies and a lack of infrastructure continue to present Liberia with fundamental challenges. The rural infrastructure has been badly damaged by the conflicts and this has had a serious impact on agriculture, the most important means of livelihood. The country’s food supply continues to be insecure, partly on account of limited agricultural production and productivity.
In addition to food insecurity, Liberia is also confronted with social challenges, which jeopardise the country’s stability. The districts of Foya, Vahun and Kolahun in Lofa County were particularly hard hit by the effects of the civil war, and the majority of the population fled the region. Here in particular, young people who joined armed groups became alienated from their families and their social milieu. Even today, they still lack income and employment opportunities that offer them a viable future, which could help curb potential violent tendencies.
The means of livelihood have improved in selected municipalities in the districts of Vahun, Kolahun and Foya in Lofa County.
Two previous development-oriented emergency and transitional aid projects – Support for the reconstruction of Western Lofa from 2006 to 2008 and Recreation of the means of livelihood of marginalised households in the Foya district, Liberia from 2009 to 2011 – have already created the basis for restoring livelihoods in the Foya district and for shifting the focus towards rice and cocoa value chains.
The ongoing GIZ-assisted project is co-financed by the European Union (food security thematic programme). It covers five areas which are being implemented to a varying degree in the participating districts:
Improving the conditions for agricultural production
Basic and further training is offered, in order to improve the basic agricultural base for cultivating wet rice and cocoa. Further support involves providing agricultural tools and seed.
Processing agricultural products
Farming organisations and cooperatives are trained in processing, storing and marketing agricultural products such as wet rice and cocoa.
Rebuilding the rural infrastructure
The project helps rebuild basic rural infrastructure, for example by repairing important sections of roads and bridges that open up access to markets.
Promoting governmental organisations and local traditional authorities
Staff of governmental organisations and local traditional authorities are trained to use monitoring and evaluation instruments.
Promoting social cohesion at municipality level
Activities aim to mobilise communities and prevent and transform conflict. These include, for example, funding for youth clubs and literacy courses. Within the context of conflict prevention and transformation, training and education measures are offered that build capacities for dialogue within and between the participating communities.