New WB Country Director Pledges Closer Partnership with Media

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World Bank new Country Director assigned to Liberia, Larisa Leshchenko, on Monday convened a roundtable acquaintance meeting with Executives of major media institutions in the country and pledged to strengthen the knowledge and skills of journalists reporting on economic affairs.

She called for more collaborative efforts to strengthen the Bank’s work in the country—which is geared towards enhancing development.

Leshchenko said the media has very critical role to play during her stewardship, hence the need to forge a close bond with the media, which she referred to as the conscience of the society.

“This is my first meeting with you since I assumed the role of Country Manager of the World Bank Liberia Country Office and it is important to note the important role the media plays in the country.

She lauded the president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), K. Abdullai Kamara, for honoring her invitation.

She indicated that the meeting will pave the way for the continuation of the bank’s Quarterly Media Dialogue that provides update on World Bank’s project portfolios in Liberia.

She promised to work with the Liberia Economic Journalists Association (LEJA) for capacity development in order to equip its members to report on the workings of the bank. “I want to use this occasion to appeal to all of you media executives here to nominate colleagues of your organization to work with LEJA leadership to broaden the membership and to ensure that economic issues are adequately covered in Liberia,” she said.

“As a knowledge institution, we shall endeavor to have our professional colleagues who regularly visit Liberia engage and strengthen your knowledge and skills in various thematic issues.

“These issues range from the economy, to the environment, public financial management, environment, health, and a wide range of issues critical for Liberia’s growth and development,” she said.

She said the bank will endeavor to have the media involved in some its stakeholders’ engagements. “This is very critical for your involvement as we discuss issues critical for Liberia’s development.”

She is due to travel to Washington DC this week to participate in the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings. Upon her return, she indicated, “I will be meeting with the media to brief you on the outcome of the Meetings.”

She believes any project in Liberia should be inclusive and consider the needs and aspirations of the Liberian people and this can only be known when the media, which is the watchdog of society, reports them.

She also lauded the media for the close partnership it has had with the World Bank over the years. “The support you provided my predecessor, Ms. Inguna Dobraja was great. Our partnership with you is important because you have been very active in informing the Liberian people about the work that we do here.”

Meanwhile, Madam Leshchenko disclosed that the World Bank Group is at the verge of formulating a new approach to engage Liberia, known as the Country Partnership Framework (CPF). This new approach, she said, aims to make the bank’s country-driven model more systematic, evidence-based, selective and focused on the goals of ending extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity in a sustainable manner. The CPF takes the place of the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) and guides the Bank Group’s support to a member country.

She said a Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) informs each new country partnership. The diagnostic identifies the most important challenges and opportunities at the country level for reaching the corporate goals. Consultations with a range of stakeholders, including the media, inform the SCD process, from diagnostic through completion.

The SCD uses data and analytic methods to support country clients and World Bank Group teams in identifying the most critical constraints to, and opportunities for, reducing poverty and building shared prosperity sustainably, while considering the voices of the poor and the views of the private sector and other stakeholders.

She used the occasion to also congratulate the newly elected Coordinator of the Female Journalists Association of Liberia, Ms. Siatta Scott-Johnson and the new corps of officers who were elected over the weekend in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

PUL President Kamara lauded Leshchenko for convening such an important gathering which will go a long way in benefitting both institutions.

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