Several media practitioners from various outlets recently underwent a 5-day training of trainers on how to report on County Social Development Funds (CSDF) so as to increase citizens’ participation in, understanding of and accountability for the fund.
The training is part of the Liberia Media Monitoring for Accountability project initiated by Internews Liberia Development Program.
The Liberia Media Budget Monitoring For Accountability is a new activity of the country’s Media Development Program implemented by Internews and funded by USAID. The project idea was derived from research done by LAVI on the implementation of the CSDF.
It is expected that the 19 trainees will work with journalists working with community radio stations and school press clubs across the country to help citizens in tracking the budget and ensuring that earmarked projects are implemented.
During the life span of the project, both Internews and the Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative (LAVI) will collaborate to meet the intended objectives.
Jan McArthur, Chief of Party (COP), USAID Liberia Media Development (LMD), Internews, said the project is meant to increase citizens’ participation in the budget and implementation of the CSDF with available information.
She urged the participants, mostly journalists, to make the most of the training in order to meet the project’s other objective of helping journalists produce stories that will impact the lives of ordinary citizens.
LAVI’s Chief of Party, Milica Panic, said LAVI’s goal is to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships to advocate and monitor accountability and policy reforms in Liberia.
“To the LAVI team, this means creating a space, mechanisms and opportunities through which all the citizens will be able to voice their concerns to their government and that all relevant parties – private sector companies, civil society and community based organizations, faith-based groups – will work together to collectively address these concerns,” Panic said.
LAVI is also supporting government agencies with oversight on natural resource management (NRM) and concessions to increase their vertical linkages with affected communities.
According to her, the organization has supported eight CSOs in the formation of an advocacy coalition to promote reforms in the management and monitoring of the County Social Development Funds (CSDF), money earmarked in concession agreements for community development projects in counties where natural resource extraction companies operate.
“To date, the NRM coalition with support from LAVI has conducted 246 multi-party meetings around the country raising awareness for those managing the CSDF,” Panic said.
As a result, the communities are taking responsibility to ensure existing community mechanisms are operational and are able to follow up on CSDF-related issues.