November 2, 2021, Monrovia – Liberia
Distinguished Members of the Media, our Partners in Progress, Donors, and the Public.
On November 2, 2021, the Liberia International Non-Governmental Organization (LINGO) Forum, a network of more than 40 International NGOs working across the Republic of Liberia convened a cross-section of members for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Monrovia. The theme of the 2021 AGM was “Collective Impact-Resilient Future” reflecting on the collective impact of INGOs over the past 10 years towards building a more resilient future for Liberia.
This was the first AGM since the COVID 19 Pandemic was confirmed in Liberia. Many new INGO Country Directors/Representatives have joined LINGO Forum in the last year. As such, the event provided a platform for members and invited guests to better understand the role of LINGO as a collective network supporting the Government of Liberia’s development agenda. In addition, it was an opportunity to reflect, take stock of INGOs’ contributions and to outline and look forward to the future of civil society presence in Liberia.
Augustine A. Allieu, Immediate Past Chair of LINGO and Country Direct of SOS Children’s Hospital opened the event with a holistic overview of civil society’s contribution to the social, economic, and political development of Liberia over the past 10 years. Civil society in Liberia has been a critical force in the movement for democratization and played a crucial role in national reconciliation and peacebuilding to date he noted. He further stated that CSOs also participated and/or facilitated in setting the development agenda at all levels, including county and national levels, including the then Poverty Reduction Strategy and the current Pro-poor agenda, as well as the development of sector plans in education, health, agriculture, social protection, and other areas.
A panel on Maximizing Collective Impact facilitated by Madam Facia Harris, National Women’s Rights advocate brought together representation from the United Nations, Bilateral partner such as USAID and the national Civil Society council. Speaking on the topic of “Building a More Resilient Post-pandemic future, Mr. Jim Wright, USAID Mission Director said, “Covid 19 taught us the value of shared partnerships and the degree to which we are interdependent. We can only solve the world challenges by working together. Liberian needs to draw on its quintessential Liberian strengthen to truly build a post-pandemic resilient future he highlighted. Only by working together as one united people that we can give true meaning to the national song, in union strong we cannot fail”.
Convening of all the INGOS together in Liberia to maximize impact, avoid duplication and use resources more effectively including Joint planning, coordination and resources mobilization is certainly what we should be doing more of said Neils Scott, UN Resident Coordinator in Liberia. He noted that there is a need to move beyond the term implementing partner, organizations for example, LINGO Network has more to offer so let’s develop the power of partnership to better promote and achieve the SDG targets. He also added that measuring the SDG does not come naturally to many countries. Even in the most developed countries, only 40-50% of indicators are being measured. We need planning tools and a more systematic way of working with government, development partners including INGOS in working towards achieving the SDGs he added.
Madam Loretta Pope-Kai, Chair of the National Civil Society Council charged LINGO to strengthen its coordination with and investments in the National CSO council members to build back better towards a more resilient Liberia. LINGO must ensure timely engagements of CSOs, effective partnerships beyond just co-implementation but involved in setting the agenda, shared program design and planning, monitoring and evaluation, joint resource mobilization and directly holding the government accountable to work closely with international partners on implementation and outcomes. She also noted that in terms of sustainability, CSO is the direct representation for the community; therefore, it is necessary to ensure active participation from all---the government, INGOS, CSO, Women and Youth led groups and the community at large. She concluded by calling for facilitated national dialogue with CSO and INGO and government to review the state of affairs towards building a more resilient future for Liberia.
The 2021 AGM wrapped up with a session on internal reflections facilitated by Madam Faith Akovi Cooper, Chair of LINGO. Members engaged in an interaction session highlighting LINGOS successes and gaps including highlighting critical incidences in Liberia in which LINGO positioned its support as a unified front on humanitarian response. When Covid-19 gripped the world, it put to test our collective resilience to the global pandemic. The fight against COVID-19 required a collective effort with strategic partnerships at its core. CSOs, including NGOs given their deep connect in combating various socio-economic issues, have been a natural partner and instrumental in supporting the Government of Liberia COVID 19 response and recovery effort. Members are working relentlessly at various levels, ranging from participating at the level of the national Incidence Management System, to helping shape the work of the various clusters, as well as on the ground and providing critical services to vulnerable groups of people.
LINGO Coordination Committee expressed its profound thanks to the participants, speakers and appreciation to the AGM 2021 planning committee led by Dr. Abena Amedormey, CD of Catholic Relief Services and participants. The LINGO Chair also thanked the Government of Liberia and its partners and donors for the level of trust, collaboration, and support to INGO members/organizations operating in Liberia. She noted that LINGO looks forward to continued collaboration as the FORUM strive to build a more resilient Liberia.
Founded in 1997, LINGO, a membership of over 40 INGOs has contributed to the national development, peace, and security and continue to do so through wide range of programs and projects implementation by its members/organizations across Liberia. LINGO is working tirelessly with its development partners and donors to sustain and continue the gains and progress made in achieving an improve and develop Liberia.