MONROVIA-In November 2022, Internews formally closed its two EU-funded Liberia Media Initiative (LMI) project at an elaborate event held at the Royal Grand Hotel. At that event, the man at the helm of Liberia’s public information ecosystem, Information Minister Ledgerhood Julius Rennie, says he looks forward to additional or new funding to Internews towards developing the country’s media sector.
According to the minister, the outcome of the LMI project was an important indication that media development in Liberia was moving in the right direction. Moreso, away from what he calls ‘workshops,’ hence, his call for continuing financing of Internews activities.
“Listening to the outcomes from where I am sitting, I said to myself, I think we’re making great progress in breaking new grounds of ensuring that these kinds of projects when fundings come to Liberia to empower and make sure that the media move from one stage to the other, we can say now for sure that we’re beginning to see tangible results.
“We believe funding should be now going to these kinds of focused projects, not workshops. It’s unfortunate that the project is coming to an end, but I am sure that somewhere there, the EU will find some money to continue this project – because this is very important as we move towards the 2023 general and presidential elections.”
The minister thanked the European Union and the management team at Internews and partner organizations.
“Let me first thank the European Union for providing financial support to the LMI project. I also want to thank local partnerships for the tremendous job you’ve done. Most times, these kinds of projects illicit technical international expertise to come on the ground. But now we see that we do have Liberian technical know-how within our media ranks to achieve the kind of results that have been exhibited here today. I say thank you to all of you, our Liberian media colleagues,” Min. Rennie says.
The LMI project was implemented by Internews between November 2020 and November 2022 in collaboration with five Liberian institutions: Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP), Local Voices Liberia Media Network (LVL), Publishers Association of Liberia (PAL) and the Independent Information Commission of Liberia (IIC).
One major success criterium of EU-funded projects is an assessment of the level of relationship between organizations and state authorities, and how relationships affect projects.
For this, Internews’ LMI project director, Samuka V. Konneh, believes that over the span of implementation, the project built, nurtured, and, sustained a good relationship with state authority, especially entities and officials managing access to public information.
“Internews and its partners built mutually rewarding relationships with the IIC, the body with statutory responsibility to handle FOI matters. Its chairperson and top officials attended all project’s FOI activities, including those held out of town.
“This relationship was extended to PIOs in not only them attending training workshops or public forums but helping journalists conducting investigations to access public information that supports their reportage.
“On another front, we built a strong relationship with the Ministry of Information (MICAT). All three deputy ministers for administration, public affairs, and technical services respectively, and an assistant minister graced training workshops and public events organized by the project.
The LMI is Internews’ first EU-funded project in Liberia. In a short video played at the beginning of the project’s closing event, the head of the EU Delegation to Liberia, says the EU is pleased with the LMI.
“The European Union through its Delegation in Liberia has been supporting the media in your country for a very long time because we believe the media is an integral part of democracy. Fake news is but one of the many media projects we are supporting through the Liberia Media Initiative. This is a really good program.
“We at the European Union Delegation are very happy and very proud to support such an excellent initiative. Support to the media is one of our active and dynamic supports to democracy all over the world, and we’re very happy to do it here in Liberia. We’re proud of the work being done by Local Voices,” Amb. Laurent Delahousse.