Lack of ‘Political Will’ Impedes Progress in Public Institutions

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Berexford S. Jallah

-Technical experts say

By Joaquin M. Sendolo

An environmental laboratory expert, Berexford S. Jallah, has attributed the underperformance of most public corporations and agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) his workplace, to the lack of political will of the leader.

Presenting on “Land degradation and Management and the Environment at a two-day seminar held with Media Managers and Editors in Gbarnga, Bong County, Jallah said with the challenge posed by climate change due to man’s activities on the land, “It will take the political will of the leader to curb land degradation and deforestation to enhance a safe environment.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the regulatory Institution of the Government of Liberia for the sustainable management of the environment and its natural resources. The Agency was established by an act of the Legislature November 26, 2002 and published into handbill on April 30, 2003.

With the vital responsibility given the EPA to manage the environment, it appears as though it has limited teeth to bite because of political interferences associated with its work.

It is interesting to note that in many instances the EPA will issue warnings to a violators building on wetland, but the more the warning is issued, the more the violators continue the violation.

As visibly seen in many parts of Monrovia, residents cut down the mangrove swamp and fill it up with red dirt or garbage to build thereon. 

“The mangrove swamp has so many uses.  The mangrove tree itself consumes about 50% of the carbon put out by man, and the swamp being a stable ecosystem is used by aquatic animal species to lay their eggs and reproduce.  When taken over by people, remember those aquatic species that use that place as a habitat will not be able to live there and we will lose sight of them.  The result to us is that we will not have the kind of fish to eat,” said Jallah.

On the other hand, environmentalists believe that nature does not forgive, and anything man does to harm it (nature) will turn back to him.  According to Jallah, when the wetland is filled for the habitat of man, the aquatic species may go away, but water will bring them back one day and houses that are built on the wetland will surely damage with owners having no place to live.

Even though consequences of building on wetland are evident, the EPA technician said people are stubborn because issues of national concerns are treated with politics and leaders are always under the pressure to use politics for whatever reason they must.

Benjamin Karmorh, another presenter, warned that climate change is becoming an active force that Liberians need to take seriously or face drought and other natural disasters like sea erosion and tropical storms.

Sand mining, forest degradation (random cutting down of forest), and deforestation (clearing of forest for infrastructural or other purposes) are activities Karmorh noted are threatening the environment and influencing climate change.

Like Jallah, Karmorh also alluded that the lack of political will to get agencies of government to perform makes it difficult to control human behavior towards the forest and environment.

The two-day private sector media sensitization training and panel discussion on global environment and socio-economic issues in Liberia was organized by the Cross-Cutting Capacity Development Project at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).  The objective of the forum was to serve as an integrated platform for a holistic approach to raise awareness and understanding of the global environmental issues and their socio-economic implications on economic growth and livelihood.

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