The Deputy Minister for Urban Affairs at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Paulita C.C. Wie, says if Liberia is to become a middle income country urbanization must be considered a serious concern.
She made the statement on Thursday, September 24, 2020, at a one-day workshop organized by the MIA with support from UN Habitat.
The Deputy Minister said with the growth in population, the economy is largely impacted by social, political, cultural and environmental factors, therefore, urbanization must be a focus of the Government to better the lives of the citizens.
She said he National Urban policy forms part of the larger network of the Liberia Country Program funded by Cities Alliance. The process started in 2016 & by 2017 the policy process through feasibility studies identified 10 priority areas.
According to UN-Habitat, the National Urban Policy (NUP), is a coherent set of decisions derived through a deliberate, government-led process of coordinating, and rallying various actors for a common vision, and goal that will promote more transformative, productive, inclusive, and resilient urban development in the long term.
She said the entire world is urbanizing with rapid advancement of technology.
The Deputy MIA Minister told the participants that Urbanization in the Liberian context is defined as growing population in cities and townships due to migration and high fertility rates which posed challenges and opportunities.
Liberian cities, according to her, were created as major cities to serve as local government headquarters and commercial centers within each of the 15 counties. “Other areas, such as townships and boroughs, were also established by acts of Legislation with minimal requirements,” she added.
She stressed the need for the provision of infrastructures, such as roads, electricity, water, sanitation, healthcare, education facilities, trading centers and industries, considering the growth in the population in urban settlements in Liberia to improve the lives of the people.
“Some of our challenges confronting urbanization include, the civil war, lack of urban planning, Ebola virus outbreak, Coronavirus, and the lack of economic empowerment for rural citizens,” she said.
She expressed the hope that the participants of the workshop will commit themselves to becoming champions for the NUP in their respective local communities.
“We as officials of government will continue to advocate for the systematic strengthening of local capacities through the provision of financial resources to develop, monitor and implementation of urban programs. We are also praying that the country program can be extended to other counties and should not be limited only to Montserrado,” she noted.
According to her, the NUP requires an inclusive process and so all hands must be on deck. “We anticipate the fullest support, collaboration, coordination of all stakeholders to engage relentlessly and above all to take ownership of the process to ensure sustainability for a promising urban development framework,” she explained.
The Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Urban Affairs therefore called on the participants to take advantage of the Counties Service Centers, the local Government Act of 2018 to improve the lives of the people.
She used the occasion to acknowledge the work of the Monrovia City Corporation for hosting workshop as well as to serve as Co-chair on the Steering committee,
The MIA Deputy Minister also thanked the International Partners (Cities Alliance, UN-Habitat, Habitat for Humanity, Slum Dwellers International, etc), for the presentation on the Liberia Country Program and others.