— Targets 1,200 direct beneficiaries
On November 2, 2019, the International Labour Organization (ILO) in partnership with the United Nations Peacebuilding office launched a US$1.5 million project awareness campaign on Socio-cultural Practices on Peace Building and Mediation Structures in Bong and Lofa counties.
The program was launched in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
According to the ILO, it is also intended to support an agent of positive change, thereby promoting social cohesion in project communities by providing awareness on peacebuilding and mediation structures, youth’s role in conflict prevention, as well as the importance of their economic empowerment.
The project will be conducted in each of the six project communities in Tumutu, Salala, and Totota in Bong County, and Zorzor, Salayea and Ganglo Town in Lofa County, targeting 1,200 direct beneficiaries in the two project counties.
It will last for two years beginning in March 2020 and will end in February 2021.
The project was launched under the title, “Sustaining Peace and Improving Social Cohesion through the Promotion of Rural Employment Opportunities for Youth in Conflict-prone Areas.”
ILO Country Manager, Salif Masalay, said the campaign will promote socio-cultural activities, community mobilization and awareness-raising for information on available peacebuilding structures, and the role of young women and men.
He said the awareness was developed against a backdrop of addressing two interrelated and interlinked root causes of conflict in Liberia.
Masalay named grievance over insufficient participation of young women and men in local dispute resolution, and lack of employment and livelihood opportunities for rural youth.
He noted these causes constitute some of the major findings of a 2017 study, titled: “Mapping Opportunities for Consolidation.” This study, Masalay said, identified land and property disputes, as well as youth’s agitation, as key aspects of conflict and fragility of peace in Liberia, particularly in the two neighboring counties of Bong and Lofa in the Northwest of Liberia.
Masalay told the beneficiaries that the project is sponsored by the United Nations (UN) Peace Funds through the Multi-Partners Trust Funds.
He said the livelihood component will be the agricultural programs through the empowerment of youth to engage in different agricultural activities as a means of ensuring that their livelihood improves.
Mr. Masalay added, “When people are employed and obtained lively opportunities, there is less chance that they would allow anyone getting involved in anti-peace activities.”
Moses Zolue, a National Project Coordinator and Agronomist at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), said that Salala and other communities were selected to benefit from the project because they fall in areas that are classified as “hot spots of conflict in the country.”
Zolue used the occasion to encourage the youth, men and women to take the project as their own. He noted: “The development partners had brought their money to benefit them, and as such, they should consider it as their own.”
He said the agricultural component of the project is meant to put money in the pockets of the youth in those communities.
The Commissioner of Salala District, Daniel S. Tubman, has expressed gratitude to the ILO and partners for the project, which is geared towards fostering peace among the young people.
Mr. Tubman further thanked the government for taking the project to the district to enable them to find peace in their communities as well as promote economic empowerment.
Tubman cautioned the young people to take advantage of the project and make adequate use of it, “because the sustainability of the project depends on all”
He assured the ILO and partners of his office’s preparedness to work with them for the successful implementation of the project.
The occasion, which was attended by over 350, was marked by a cultural performance and a street parade.