Four prominent Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Liberia want the Government of Liberia (GoL) identifies funds and other resources to support poor communities, women, children and people living with disabilities (PwDs) during the State of Emergency (SOE).
In a joint statement Thursday April 9, 2020, Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), Accountability Lab Liberia, Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) and Naymote Partners for Democratic Development recommended that the Liberian Government identifies funds and other resources to support poor communities targeting women, children, elderly and people living with disabilities
The statement read by the Executive Director of CENTAL, Anderson Miamen said This includes, but not limited to provision of safe drinking water, food and other essential items to enable them survive while staying at home. Timely provision of electricity and pipe-borne water where they exist.”
“That President and Vice President lead by example in fostering and promoting a national fight that rallies the support of all stakeholders. The President and Vice President cannot be running individual projects when they should be leading a Government of Liberias actions and efforts, to which all senators, representatives, civil servants and even ordinary citizens and development partners can identify, the four CSOs recommended.
They also recommended that the Fight against the Coronavirus Disease be de-politicized. According to them, the Ministry of Health, National Public Health Institute of Liberia and other relevant bodies must be adequately capacitated to lead the fight, void of undue political influence and interferences.
They added “At the moment, we strongly believe that their roles are being undermined by the increasing involvement of the Monrovia City Corporation in contact tracing and surveillance with no prior experience and capacity.
“Non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, traditional and religious leaders, community leaders and the media played key roles during the Ebola fight and must be recognized by the government and provided the opportunity to contribute. The Leaderships and essential staffs of CSOs must be equally allowed to work, as they play vital roles in creating awareness, proving valuable inputs to government as well as independently monitoring and reporting on key trends and decision-making processes around the fight, they recounted.
They also want the government subsidizes the cost of electricity, water and gasoline to enable Liberian families access these services.
“We do recognize that government does not have the capacity and resources to fully implement all these measures. Therefore, it must work with funding partners to source money and other resources to undertake these recommendations. That government, in consultation with Commercial Banks, places moratorium on payment of loans and interests by creditors to commercial Banks for the period of 3-months. This will alleviate the pressure and economic impact on businesses, many of whom either not operating or doing so not at full capacity, the groups further added.
The statement further said “We wish to remind government of its accountability responsibility to itself, citizens and development partners contributing valuable resources and inputs to the process. Updates to the public must include resources received and expended, while mechanisms and frameworks, accessible to the media, civil society and partners must be established and maintained, to ensure availability of basic and timely information to the public about ongoing efforts and resources received for the efforts.”
At the same time, the organizations cautioned that, while the government enforces these measures using the national army and state security apparatus, the human rights of citizens and other residents must be fully respected and protected.
We wish to reiterate calls for all Liberians and residents to fully respect instructions from government, health authorities to protect themselves and others during this period. We must all observe the social distancing rules and avoid action(s) that undermine the fight against COVID-19, which cannot be won without collaborative and well-coordinated efforts of all concerned: Government, development partners, citizens, civil society and media and other groups in society. Also, civil society recommits to remaining constructively engaged with Government to forge a united, concerted, well-coordinated and citizens-driven fight against the deadly Coronavirus in the Country, they called on Liberians and foreign nationals within the bailiwicks of the country.
Meanwhile, the four CSOs said they welcomed President George Manneh Weahs address to the Nation on Wednesday April 8, 2020 declaring a “State of Emergency”.
“We wish to applaud Government for the decision, which augments ongoing efforts to eradicate COVID-19 from Liberia. We join the President and Health Authorities to admonish Liberians and the Public to fully respect and observe all protocols announced as effective means of preventing further spread of the Virus as well as consolidating efforts to eradicate it. We are optimistic that with an inclusive and concerted fight, led by the President and institutions with the requisite mandates and proven capabilities and experience, COVID-19 will be a matter of history in Liberia, soon, they said.
They prominent CSOs said Despite our support for measures announced by the President and Government of Liberia, we are concerned about lingering issues, which if not timely addressed could effectively undermine Liberias fight against COVID-19 and further undermine citizens ability to fully respect and observe announced stay-home mandate and other actions needed to win the war against this killer disease.
“The President announced a stay-home order, with exemptions for movements, without fully considering the socio-economic impacts and implications of the measures on citizens, especially the over 75% Liberians living on $1.00 or less a day and have no reserve (food, water and other essential items) for the following day(s). Simply put, they live on a daily hustle as foods and other essential materials are not guaranteed for the day after and beyond.
“Besides, the sources of income and livelihoods for many, especially those vulnerably employed, are far away from their communities and will have no access to them during these periods. We noted that their plights were not considered because Government has not announced any reduction in prices of Rice, Gasoline and other basic commodities, neither has the government announced plans to supply food items and other essential supplies to poor and vulnerable groups, including orphanages, poor communities, the elderly, those with various forms of disabilities, etc. How will those who do from hand to mouth survive in these crisis? The government cannot be trying to prevent citizens from being killed by Coronavirus, but does little or nothing to prevent them from being killed by hunger and starvation.
Nothing can be more important than using the Peoples taxes and resources mobilized from donors to carter to their felt needs in difficult moments like these.”
The statement was signed by Lawrence Yealue, Country Representative
Of Accountability Lab Liberia, Anderson Miamen, Executive Director of
Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), Harold Marvin Aidoo, Sr. Executive Director of Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) and
Eddie D. Jarwolo, Executive Director of Naymote Partners for Democratic Development rewspectively.