US$16M for Liberia’s ‘Poor’

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The Government of Liberia (GOL) and the World Bank Group, along with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have signed a US$16 million agreement that is geared toward improving the living standards of poor Liberians.

The Agreement which is under the title, “Liberia Social Safety Nets Project” (LSSNP), is funded by the World Bank and USAID. The Bank is infusing US$10 million as a loan, while the Americans are expected to grant the Liberian people US$6 million.

The project is expected to directly benefit about 10,000 households in four counties, including Bomi, Maryland, Grand Kru and River Gee.

At the signing ceremony on Monday, September 19, at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the Bank’s Country Manager, Ms. Larisa Leshchenko, said the project will benefit “extremely poor” and food insecure households.

Ms. Leshchenko said before 2014, Liberia made significant progress in stimulating economic growth, reducing poverty and improving service delivery. “However, the gains made were negatively impacted by the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the region, which claimed the lives of over 4,800 Liberians.”

The EVD outbreak, she said demonstrated the need for the GOL to put in place a robust social protection system that can be used to reach the extreme poor in times of emergency.

According to her, the LSSNP, which has a total financing of US$15.8 million, will not only deliver cash transfer to the poor, but will also implement accompanying measures aimed at promoting the growing quick and high yielding nutritious food through home gardening.

“The project will also provide support for increasing awareness on improved nutrition among targeted households as a means of reducing vulnerability,” she said.

Also making remarks, USAID’s Deputy Mission Director Merryn Farroe, expressed the hope that the money would be expended in ways that will bring benefits to the targeted households.

Mr. Peter Roberts, Acting Gender Minister, Peter Roberts, said the LSSN project was designed to address vulnerability. Roberts said the Ministry will send it social workers into the field to identify the homes to benefit from money.

He also stated that prior to the EVD outbreak, the Ministry was implementing the same project, and depending on the number of dependents, some homes were receiving amounts which ranged from US$40, US$50 and up to US$150.

The Gender Ministry is the lead Ministry in the implementation of the project.

For his part, Finance and Development Planning Minister Boima Kamara, thanked the donors for the money, adding, “The money has come at a time when the country is in need of funding to address its social problems.”

He added further that the Agreement demonstrates the government’s interest in and willingness to address issues of poverty and hunger and how vulnerable people could be reached.

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