The World Customs Organization (WCO) through it Customs for Relief of Epidemic Diseases (C-RED) Project on Tuesday, May 1, began a four-day training for Customs officers assigned with the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) as well as partners working in relief projects.
The Project intends to assist Customs Administrations in West Africa to be better prepared to minimize the effects of regional epidemic diseases and natural disasters.
It aims to provide capacity-building support to the beneficiary Customs Administrations (LRA being one of them), to develop mechanisms based on international best practices that guide the release of relief goods in case of the outbreak of a regional epidemic disease or a natural disaster, through national preparedness and regional cooperation.
In order to do so, the project fosters regional experience sharing, based on experiences in the Ebola crisis as well as national support in the development and implementation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for the priority release of relief goods.
The training taking place at the LRA’s headquarters is facilitated by project staff of the WCO.
Participants brought together included representatives from the Ministry of Health, the National Disaster Agency, WHO, UNICEF and corporate organizations.
They are being taught the fundamentals and key strategies to develop Standard Operation Procedures (SOP), which will serve as working documents for natural disaster management.
Customs Commissioner Saa Samoi welcomed the initiative, stating the importance of customs operations, “because during crisis and health emergencies, customs activities encounter series of challenges.”
Samoi added that it is important to enhance the skills and knowledge of Customs officers to be prepared when disasters occur.
The lead facilitator and project manager of WCO- RED Project Eve Gerard said the training is part of WCO’s capacity development to strengthen customs activities in West Africa.
Ms. Gerard said it is important for the LRA to develop an SOP, to enhance the operation of its customs activities in periods of disaster.