Our Natural Resources Are Critical to Peace Consolidation

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“Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud. I will build a school in every village, over the whole earth. I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace.” These were the words of Charles Summer, an American politician
and senator from Massachusetts-(1811-1874).

Like Senator Summer, I ask you to give me the natural resources: Iron Ore, Timber, Rubber, Diamond, Gold, Water and Land, which are found in Liberia, I will provide for the four million Liberians luxuries only enjoyed by oil sheiks, kings and queens. I will build functional schools and health care facilities, housing, make electricity available to all, provide access to clean and safe drinking water in the homes and a national Peace Monument. I will establish a trust fund for generations to come. But this is not the case.

Of the many ways that things can go wrong in a post-conflict environment such as Liberia, the mismanagement of some of our natural resources, which may seem common, particularly—water—can’t be overemphasized. These resources may seem common but can ruin a nation’s peace and stability if they are not managed properly.

According to a new study launched by the Environmental Law Institute, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the University of Tokyo, McGill University and Duke University, “In times of war, water resources and infrastructure are often destroyed or become inaccessible to larger segments of people living in conflict areas. Restoring these critical services can avert humanitarian crises and rebuild state authority.”

It is agreed that our natural resources should be controlled by our government for the people of Liberia and not by private sector for the benefit of a few. It is on this premise that MOP-Liberia would like to encourage the Government of Liberia to place additional emphasis on improving the management and delivery of our natural resources, with much emphasis on the provision of safe and clean drinking water, which can be used as a peace instrument. This, we believe, will help achieve the quest for sustainable peace in Liberia.

According to a study, entitled, “Water and Post-conflict Peacebuilding, Effective Water Management,” is critical to mitigating new tensions over water resources. In the words of Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary-General, “The sound governance of water resources is vital for promoting peace and stability and is among the highest priorities during post-conflict recovery and peace building. Water, sanitation, and the related infrastructure are also critical to economic development and livelihoods in the aftermath of war.”

The need for an increase in budgetary allocation for water and sanitation program cannot be overemphasized. It is our water resources that underpin all aspects of our society, including energy, health, economic growth and food security. 

We need to establish a Liberian Green Fund, which would only support activities surrounding our natural resources, including water. While we think about doing this, we also need to provide the necessities for clean drinking water and other basic social amenities, which are critical to people living in any post-conflict environment.

Current ad hoc and solo approach that have now characterized the management of our natural resources are counterproductive and should be reversed for the common good of everyone.

Sustainable peace in Liberia is the only hope of our future and we must protect it through prudent management of our natural resources.  One thing is the system that government through its policy formulation and decrees puts in place, on the flip side is how the system is implemented through the meaningful involvement and active engagement with young people who could play a critical role in how we play the system of managing our natural resources.

Messengers of Peace-Liberia, Inc. (MOP-Liberia) Facebook page provides an opportunity for all those individuals and like-minded organizations, already doing something about peace consolidation to share their experiences and to encourage each other to be inspired for peace mission, through managing our natural resources. Contribute your thoughts, as well as your photos.

My Father always says, “It is never too late to do the right thing.”

Until next week, Peace, above all, Peace First, Let Peace Prevail.

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