Cities Alliance’s Liberia Country Project that seeks to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will serve as a guide for the country’s slum upgrading, with support from international partners for the next four years, will receive the full backing of the government, Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf said yesterday.
Minister Sirleaf spoke after a team from Cities Alliance, the National Housing Authority (NHA) and those from Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) paid him a courtesy visit to abreast him with the second phase of the upgrading slum communities’ project at his office on Executive Mansions grounds in Monrovia.
Sirleaf stressed the need for external support, in order to realize the government’s “pro-poor agenda” that is aimed at alleviating the suffering of the majority poor in the country. He spoke highly of his deputy minister for urban affairs Paulita C.C. Wie, thanking her for her tireless and passionate effort to reach out to the majority poor and for partnering with Cities Alliance, along with the NHA.
Deputy Minister Wie expressed appreciation for the gathering, since she has already been working along with Cities Alliance to improve the living condition of the urban poor.
Cities Alliance’s Program Manager Vijay Parma said to the laughter of all that he was a native of Sinkor, Monrovia, because he lived in that community from 1978-96, during the administration of President William Richard Tolbert. Identifying himself as a ‘Son of Sinkor,’ Mr. Parma said the fact that Monrovia was built on a slum environment demands urgent intervention in its upgrading, to avoid the tragic experience that Freetown, Sierra Leone, went through following the deaths of hundreds of citizens recently.
He restated Cities Alliance’s Liberia Country Program, which includes strengthening the organization and meaningful participation of slum dwellers, working for poor organizations in city governance, inclusive planning, and responsive service delivery.
It also includes improving climate-resilient and inclusive urban planning, slum upgrading, and incremental housing strategies by investing in community-driven services and affordable housing; enhancing the national enabling environment for resilient and inclusive urbanization that benefits economic growth, local government, and the urban poor.
Matthew Ndote, HFHI chief of party, said after a year long’s assessment, it has become necessary for the second phase of the project to be realized; therefore an MOU that will be signed at the end of the 4-day interactions will provide guidelines for the upgrading of slum communities in the country.
Mrs. Sanjeevani Singh explained the role of the Government of South Africa and its contribution towards the upgrading of slum communities in Liberia and acknowledged an interest to partner with the NHA to develop a document that seeks financial partners for the project.
With the conclusion of phase one, she said the second phase is the implementing part that should address challenges in the sector.
Earlier, a similar meeting was held in the presence of Duannah Siryon, NHA managing director, and his deputies.
Siryon expressed the government’s interest in the project and noted that building housing units for the majority poor is a business that involves all in the country, including partners.
He spoke about President George Weah’s priority interest in the upgrading of slum communities and promised NHA’s support to realize the project. He reminded the gathering of the urgency that the NHA attaches to the project’s Slum Upgrading Unit, led by Es-Samir Bropleh, and said he was excited about the project.
The four-day program continues today, with a meeting on relocation guidelines that will be held at the offices of YMCA on Broad Street. This will be followed by another meeting on private sector acquaintance, along with housing supply firms and the NHA technical department. There will also be site visits to slum communities of West Point and Clara Town.