The government of Liberia has received US$5 million from the Swedish government for support to Liberia’s Decentralization Support Program (LDSP) for 2016 and 2017.
The amount was announced at a signing ceremony on Wednesday, December 9, at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which along with the Governance Commission (GC) manages the nation’s decentralization program.
Included in Liberia’s decentralization program is a plan to bring public services closer to the people. People’s participation in some forms is an essential part of a successful decentralization process.
After the signing ceremony, the Ambassador of Sweden, Lena Nordström, underlined the importance of bringing the public services closer to the people:
“The passing of the Local Government Bill is another important milestone to develop democratic and inclusive governance in Liberia.”
She disclosed that her country’s embassy is the second largest bilateral embassy in country.
“Sweden and Liberia’s ties have been broadened, and today they include both political, commercial and development cooperation relations,” she added.
The Swedish diplomat named security, peace and rule of law, governance and public institutions and economic transformation as areas of concern for their support to the government and people of Liberia. She also stated that their focus is on women’s empowerment and gender equality.
“Sweden supports the building of feeder roads; developing markets for smallholder agriculture businesses; supports the Ministry of Gender through the UN Women in the fight against rape and sexual and gender-based violence; the Liberia National Police to improve its investigative capacity,” she added.
Amb. Nordström stated that Sweden is also providing support to the Justice and Security Trust Fund, the Public Financial Management Reform – to manage public funds effectively – and the Civil Service Reform, among others.
“In summary, the bilateral relations between Sweden and Liberia are long and strong,” she emphasized.
The Swedish Ambassador praised the President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-led administration for “showing leadership” in the drive to decentralization.
“Sweden will continue to be a partner to Liberia when you continue to strengthen peace and build a more inclusive society where all parts of the country can and will prosper,” Amb. Nordström promised.
Representing the Liberian government, Acting Internal Affairs Minister, Varney Sirleaf, promised the government’s full commitment to taking public services closer to the people.
He thanked the Embassy of Sweden and other partners of the government for supporting development initiatives of the people of Liberia.
Also representing the government were the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Governance Commission (GC).
The Liberian government has said that the participation of communities is needed to enhance the effective use of public funds and the resilience of the Liberian society.
According to the UNDP, which will be the custodian of the US$5million, “People’s participation will empower the communities themselves – women, men, girls and boys – to take leadership of the local development and contribute to national development with the full human potential.”
The LDSP is aimed at the development of a responsive, capable and accountable county administration for effective and equitable service delivery in counties. According to the government, it supports the implementation of the National Decentralization Platform of 2015 in cooperation with all involved ministries and government agencies.
The UNDP further stated that the envisaged partnership between the government and the people can increase people’s confidence and the trust in state institutions, and vice versa. “This is needed for sustainable and peaceful development in Liberia in the coming years.”