The Liberia Country Programme will bring greater Monrovia’s slum dwellers – who make up 70% of its population – into the national development process and help improve living and working conditions for the poor.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak had a devastating impact on Liberia, killing over 4,800 people nationwide. It was also the first time in history the disease hit major urban centres in the country and West Africa more generally. As well as those who lost family members, thousands of people lost their jobs and livelihoods.
Almost a quarter of Liberians live in the slums of greater Monrovia. Every single day they face the challenges of living in poor housing, with inadequate water supply, and very little sanitation. It is well established that the conditions in Monrovia’s informal settlements helped fuel the spread of the disease.
The Cities Alliance global partnership aims to improve the lives of at least 400,000 slum dwellers and working poor by empowering local people and enabling them to create lasting change in their communities in partnership with government and the private sector.
The Liberia Country Programme will:
The Programme will run from 2016-2021.
The Cities Alliance Programme aims to mobilise a range of partners to support local authorities in greater Monrovia with implementation, including the Liberian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Department of Urban Affairs, organised civil society groups in cities, and the private sector.
International development partners include United Cities and Local Governments Africa (UCLGA), UN-Habitat, Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), Comic Relief, DFID, International Growth Centre, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), StreetNet International, Habitat for Humanity International, UNOPS, and the YMCA.
The capital of Liberia, Monrovia’s opportunities and challenges are significant. It generates two thirds of the national GDP and has a vibrant central business district, bustling informal entrepreneurs, and political leaders that are strongly committed to a successful future for the city.
Monrovia is also struggling to rebuild after a bloody 14-year civil war decimated Liberia’s infrastructure, economy and government institutions. Over 300,000 people died in the war, and one million were displaced – many of them coming to Monrovia, causing extremely rapid growth that has severely stressed the city’s already limited infrastructure and ability to deliver basic services.
In 2014 the city faced one of its toughest challenges yet when the Ebola Virus Disease ravaged the city. It was the worst Ebola outbreak in Liberia’s history; some 4,000 people died of the virus, many of them women due to their traditional role as caregivers.
Struggling to cope with a disaster of this magnitude and with institutions still weak after the war, the national government shifted support for Ebola awareness and prevention to the community level. The Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), in partnership with UNICEF, Paynesville City and 120 communities within Greater Monrovia, led a community-driven initiative to combat the spread of Ebola at the grassroots level.
Through Operation Stop Ebola, community representatives were trained in how to raise awareness of Ebola at the community level. They went door-to-door with materials in hand, explaining the virus and how to take preventative measures. The campaign helped turn the trajectory on new infections, and in May 2015 Liberia was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation.
Initiated at the request of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and the Liberian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Programme aims to provide direct service investments, especially for the urban poor and youth living in Monrovia’s informal settlements. It also supports Liberia’s goal of achieving middle income status by 2030.
The Programme aims to improve the quality of support provided to cities in the country, eventually expanding from greater Monrovia to cities and county capitals around the country.
The three pillars of the Liberia Country Programme are to:
1. Strengthen organisation and meaningful participation of slum dwellers and working poor organisations in city governance, inclusive planning and responsive service delivery.
2. Improve climate-resilient and inclusive urban planning, slum upgrading and incremental housing strategies by investing in community-driven services and affordable housing.
3. Enhance the national enabling environment for resilient and inclusive urbanisation that benefits economic growth, local governments, and the urban poor.