The decentralization of government gained traction with the training in Monrovia of about 108 civil servants as County Service Center (CSC) staff. The training was conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).
The weeklong training brought together employees from various ministries, agencies and commissions assigned in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Rivercess and Gbarpolu counties.
According to the organizers, the training is intended to enable each personnel of the county service centers to become effective in achieving the government’s deconcentration initiative.
The training covered the concept of political, administrative and fiscal decentralization. It also highlighted transferring of planning, financing and management of certain functions from central government to local authorities.
Gender mainstreaming was also featured in the training to promote women’s full participation at all levels of the decentralization process.
Acting Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs, Momolu S. Johnson, said the training was essential to the post conflict reconstruction and governing processes of Liberia since the country has been run only from Monrovia for many decades.
Speaking on behalf of Internal Affairs Minister Dr. Henrique F. Tokpah, Mr. Johnson said
“The government has been operating on a centralized basis over the past years with everything focused in one area. This government wants to make a change in this situation to create opportunities for people in the counties.
“As the government has decided to do this, people should get the needed orientation to make the change. The training is about educating civil servants to understand the importance of the decentralization and giving power to local authorities to make their own decisions, carry out government services and take the knowledge back to their counties to enhance service delivery,” Minister Johnson told the participants.
Earlier, the National Director for the Decentralization Program, Dr. Roosevelt G. Jayjay, said in spite of the many challenges facing the decentralization concept, the Ministry of Internal Affairs remains committed to ensuring that the challenges are resolved to achieve its goals.
For his part, Cllr. Yarsuo Weh-dorliae, a Commissioner at the Governance Commission, said the deconcentration initiative is a historical event to change course so that the main sources of jobs, health services, businesses, education and other major opportunities are not always concentrated in Monrovia.
“People will not have to travel from far distances over bad roads to Monrovia to get birth certificates, work permits, marriage certificates and other important services as everything will now be at the county level,” said Mr. Weh-dorliae.
An official of the European Union, Manuel Iglesias, commended the authorities at the MIA for the training exercise. He also called on government to ensure sustainability of the County Service Centers established across the country.
The implementation of the Liberia Decentralization Support Program is funded by the European Union, Swedish Government, USAID, UNMIL and UNDP.