‘Over 300,000 Households in Extreme Poverty’ -Gender Minister


By Chris F Pewu

The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Williameta E. Saydee-Tarr, has indicated that Liberia has over 300,000 vulnerable households that she classified as “living in extreme poverty.”

This, Minister Tarr said, includes vulnerable groups such as orphans, persons with disabilities and persons living with HIV, among others.

She said the government is committed to implementing the Social Protection Agenda, which is under its Human Development Pillar.

Minister Tarr, who spoke at a one-day HIV and Social Protection Planning Workshop in Monrovia, explained that Liberia cannot realize its transformation agenda without scaling up social protection strategies that can restore human dignity and foster social cohesion.

“Our partners are committed to supporting our pro-poor development agenda, demonstrated by initiatives that include the social protection registry, payment of social cash transfers and the school feeding program,” she said.

If implemented, Tarr believes the Social Protection Program will reduce poverty, having a significant impact on the beneficiaries.

“The need in Liberia is much greater than the availability of resources to take the program to scale,” she said.

The assessment that took place in 2017 to review the linkages between HIV and Social Protection indicates that few, if any, of the persons living with HIV, young people and other vulnerable groups, have heard of Liberia’s Social protection programs.

Minister Tarr said the barriers that prevent these groups from accessing HIV prevention and treatment services can be alleviated through social protection interventions.

One of the recommendations in the assessment report is that we need to increase access to social protection programs for vulnerable groups most affected by the AIDS epidemic in the country.

In addition to increasing access, Minister Tarr called for the need to scale up to the social protection intervention, such as cash transfer and livelihood programs, “because scaling up these interventions requires a significant investment in the national Social Protection Agenda.”

‘’It is my appeal that we bring stakeholders and partners together once more to review progress to see how we can expand these programs at a faster pace, to reach more of the vulnerable population as quickly as possible.

“l remain committed to ensuring the social protection programs reach those in our community that are most vulnerable to the AIDS epidemic,” she noted.

Minister Tarr said she looked forward to receiving the proposed roll-out plan for HIV and Social Protection and will do her utmost to mobilize resources for the implementation.

Meanwhile, UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Miriam Chipimo, said though Liberia is on the right trajectory to reduce the spread of HIV by 2020, the country still has few challenges to address.

Director Chipimo said “We will do all we can to empower communities to make decisions that will prevent new HIV infections.”

Liberia’s HIV and social protection assessment were conducted from 19-23 June 2017, as part of the country’s post-conflict Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak recovery efforts.


  1. Miss Tarr,
    You might have a good point. I wish you well on your job. My question is this: How did you arrive at the number 300,000? Did you do an educated guess or was any research done? Could there be more Liberians in extreme poverty, given a population of 4.6 million inhabitants?

    I am not putting you in a precarious position neither am I questioning the veracity of your finding. What plans do you have in mind that could help alleviate the pain and suffering? I might be able to give you some professional suggestions. Feel free to get in touch with me. I mean it!

    • F. Hney, the Minister said 300,000 households not persons. A household comprises a house and its occupants regarded as a unit.

  2. In addition to understating extent of extreme poverty experienced by millions of citizens, the overreliance on foreign largess, which might have emboldened unwillingness to reduce compensations (one-third of annual budget) for few hundred officials, is disquieting. If Liberia isn’t a “poor country”, but “poorly-run, why all the suffering of our Country-Congua vast majority? Because, for Mama Liberia’s sake, greed alone can’t explain this seeming total rejection of the better angels of our nature. It should make any intelligence analyst instinctively fret about stability.

  3. Mr. or Mrs. Right to life,
    I do not understand how you arrived at 4.5999 million Liberian inhabitants. The estimated official 2016 population figure of Liberia stands at 4.6 million. Here I am asking the Gender Minister to tell the Liberian people how she arrived at the number 300,000 poverty-stricken Liberians. Do I need to ask you as well?
    Okay, to borrow August’s line I humbly ask “So tell us something we don’t know”. It makes sense to quote August verbatim, otherwise I could be charged with plagiarism. Madam/Sir, the ball is in your court.

  4. How do you define “extreme poverty” in Liberia?

    Is the Gender Minister using the western standard to measure poverty in Africa or Liberia specifically to come up with 300,000 Liberians living in extreme poverty? If one percent of the Liberian population controls all the wealth of the country and 99 percent of the population lives in poverty, then which part of the country did the minister do her poverty survey or studies?

    Social programs have never been the hall-mark of any administration in Liberia. All the money generated over the years from Liberia’s extractive industries went directly into the pockets of rich people while the poor were getting poorer in Liberia.

    During the 60s and 70s, Liberia had one of the highest GDP in the world but the wealth never triggered down to the 99 % of the population. That immense wealth could have built affordable housing for a small population, built good schools, kids’ school feeding program, built hospitals, roads, provide electricity and clean drinking water for the entire country.

    Liberia is endowed with precious resources that is comparable to the Middle East oil wealth but see the difference in the utilization of wealth from their oil money and the poor utilization of wealth from Liberia’s diamond, gold, timber, rubber, iron ore and other precious metals. With all our mineral wealth, Liberia still looks like an 18th century village.

    Why does the Gender Minister not ask the UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Miriam Chipimo, how did the United States tackled its Aids Epidemic that was rampant mostly in the homosexual communities in the 80s and later spread into the heterosexual and drug users communities in the 90s?

    Didn’t the U.S. emphasized Condom usage and went on a vigorous Antiviral drug usage campaign that cut the spread of Aids and HIV infection in the U.S.? Why not implement same health policies in Liberia?

    Remember, these diseases (AIDS and HIV) were non-existence in Liberia in the 60s and 70s, or at least not prevalent, or heard of when I was growing up in Liberia. The war took many Liberians to places around the world where these diseases were rampant: in Africa mostly East and Southern Africa, Asia, and United States (San Francisco and New York City). Many Liberians returned home after the war and no one knows what disease they came home with.

    These are some of the reasons the spread of AIDS and HIV are moving so rapidly in the Liberian society coupled with needles for drug use; multiple sexual partners; homosexuality; and prostitution explosion in Liberia.

    If these promiscuous lifestyles are not discouraged in our small country coupled with preventive measures, Liberia is heading for catastrophe like the AIDS epidemic that once plagued other Eastern and Southern African nations.

  5. Conneh,
    You and nearly all the commenters on this blog are spot on? Of course some commenters have drifted away, that’s not a big surprise. What you and Moses have argued is precisely my point. I don’t want to be critical of the Gender Minister, but yet we Liberians cannot go on like this without asking questions. How did the number 300,000 come about? Was data collected nationwide?
    I visited Liberia a few years ago and I met a gentleman who claimed to be an advisor to a Minister. (Name of Ministry withheld) Than I asked: “Sir, have you visited all the counties of Liberia?” He said “No, but I know how to do my job”. Right!
    Well ladies and gentlemen, read what’s written on the lines!

  6. Ponder,
    Thanks for your correction. I am not proud to say thanks. Also, I am not being critical. However, the question that’s been posed still stands, regardless. How did the honourable Minister arrive at 300,000?

    You have stated that a household comprises its occupants. So, let’s assume that a typical Liberian household comprises 5 people, a woman, her husband and 3 beautiful children. If we do the math right, we will arrive at 1.5 million poverty-stricken people, because 300,000×5 equals 1.5 million. In any way in which the ice is sliced, the number of poverty-stricken people in Liberia is more, unless there is one person in each household.

    Also, assuming that 1.5 million inhabitants are in extreme poverty, what would you say is the breakdown of poverty-stricken people in each of the 15 Liberian counties?
    Ponder, you sound knowledgeable. As you know, poverty has a different definition in the US. In 2016, according to figures which were made available, approximately 44 million Americans were identified as being poor. Of course, there are safety nets, all kinds of them, food stamps, Medicaid, Obama Care, etc. People who are poor in the US have incomes that fall below a certain amount. How are our poor people going to be assisted in Liberia? A monthly check? If checks are issued, the Liberian Treasury will implode. Again I repeat, I can help.
    I am proud of the Minister. All I am asking for is clarification.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here