The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in partnership with ZOA and the Swedish Embassy near Monrovia has introduced a new project entitled, “Support to Early Warning and Early Response, County Peace Committees and District Level Political Reconciliation Dialogues and Civic Engagement Project.”
The project is expected to be implemented by the Liberia Peace-building office and partners including ZOA, with support from the Sweden Embassy. ZOA is an international relief recovery organization working in the country to support vulnerable people affected by violence, conflicts and natural disasters.
It aims to enhance civic engagement and peaceful coexistence as well as reduce conflicts in the 15 counties.
The project, according to Edward K. Mulbah, Executive Director for Peace Building office at MIA, is being informed by a number of studies, reports and the national development plan, which focuses on pillar three of the government’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) — Sustaining the Peace.
In a powerpoint presentation, Mr. Mulbah informed the gathering that the project is part of the strategic road-map for national healing, peace-building and reconciliation and a survey report that forms the Opportunity Mapping for Peace Consolidation, and the Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Index (SCORE) Survey.
He said the project is expected to address issues of weaknesses in technical and institutional capacities that will respond to conflict-related matters at district and county levels surrounding boundary, property and land disputes; political and inter-group tensions, political tribalism, culture of violence and insecurity.
“This is intended to address violent tendencies, lower the lack of civic trust, fractured social cohesion along multiple lines, incidents of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), inter-group disputes, grievances around access to basic services, as well as concerns about transparency and accountability.”
According to him, the project phase two runs from January 2019 to January 2020, and February 2020-October, 2021, focusing on strengthening infrastructure and capacity-building to support and operate existing peace-building structures, such as the conflict Early Warning and Early Response mechanism (EWER), County Peace Committees, County Security Council, and the web-based platform Liberia Early Warning and Response Network.
“The first phase of the project is valued at US$500,000. It addresses some basic findings to enhance political reconciliation, inter-group reconciliation, civic engagement and to build trust,” he said.
The project also took into consideration rebuilding civic trust, and promoting social cohesion; targeting specific geographical locations, and to engage community inhabitants to reduce ethnic and religious tensions.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney A. Sirleaf, expressed gratitude to the Government and people of Sweden through its Ambassador Ingrid Watterquist for providing the needed financial support to implement this flagship project of the Liberian government.
“We would also like to thank our UN family and other potential donors, including IRISHAID for their support towards conflict prevention and transformation in meeting some objectives of pillar three of the PAPD,” Minister Sirleaf said.
The project, he said, will help to further strengthen Government’s capacity and ability to respond to these issues which will inherently help in a tremendous way to contribute to ending fragility during the period of the implementation of the PAPD and promote the culture of non-violence in our society.
He noted that the early identification of potential triggers of conflicts, and their positive transformation are vital for preventive responses, and would stop escalation of violence, thereby maintaining peace and security.
He described the early project as a sound policy, and a right socio-political move for maintaining peace and security in the country.