U.S. Gov’t to Help Liberia Fight Food Insecurity

Flashback: United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy speaks at press conference at the US Embassy in Liberia

— Ambassador Michael McCarthy has disclosed

The United States government has said that Liberia is one of the countries in Africa that is in serious need of assistance to fight food insecurity and, as such, a project, to be implemented through its agency international development (USAID), has considered including the country (Liberia) to become a beneficiary.

U.S. AmbassadorMichael McCarthy, assigned near the Liberian capital, Monrovia, made the disclosure recently when he had a joint press conference with Beth Van Schaack, the US Department of State’s sixth Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice.

Amb. Schaack was visiting Liberia on a fact finding mission to know why Liberia has not implemented the recommendations of its Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) even though the war has ended almost two decades now but the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to live with impunity.

Her visit, as she made known at the press conference, was to assure the Liberian government of America’s fullest support, including financial assistance, to establish war and economic crimes court in the country in order to close the chapter on the cycle of impunity.

When the question concerning the acute shortage of rice on the Liberian market that is causing even more hardship for the already impoverished population was asked, McCarthy said he is confident the Weah administration has the ability to address the food shortage but, for long term sustainable food availability in the country, the U.S. has considered including the country on its list of “Feed the Future” focused countries.

“The world is facing a global food security crisis with multiple causes ranging from climate change and COVID-19 to conflicts, including Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. To combat this, the United States is leading by example,” the U.S. chief diplomat assigned to Liberia said, adding, “In the new initiative, Liberia has recently been selected as a “feed the future” focused country which will allow us, through USAID, to pursue even more programming to fight food insecurity particularly with our existing agro-development activity.”

He noted that America looks forward to the “Feed the Future” and other ways of further supporting the agriculture sector in Liberia.

McCarthy: “Across the world the U.S. government has consistently provided sustained investment in global agriculture to build resiliency of food systems, help farmers boost their harvests, provide people with safe and nutritious food and help the most vulnerable households withstand future shocks.”

He continued: “As Secretary Blinken stated, also at this year’s UNGA, the U.S. government’s foreign priorities are advancing global health and global health security, upholding the UN Charter and shaping the UN’s future, and, Combating food insecurity.”

“Feed the Future” is not the first U.S. project to begin operation in Liberia as there have been others including the US$75 million Food and Enterprise Development (FED) project that was implemented by USAID over a period of five years beginning in 2011. The FED program provided local farmers with rice hubs and the technical skills to operate the machines in order to do mass production of processed rice.

However, USAID probably did not put in place the appropriate mechanism and, as such, upon the fading away of the US$75 million project, sustainability became a problem, thereby leading to almost all of the efforts and resources losing sight of the mission of making Liberia a self-sustained and food secure country.

Liberia’s stance against Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Meanwhile, Amb. McCarthy expressed gratitude to President Weah for what he called Weah’s “touch on the impact of Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, and its impact on the global supply chain, which is contributing to a global food crisis.”

Liberia has since condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and called for an end to the hostilities so as to allow the people of Ukraine return to their country and continue to live a normal and peaceful life.

President Weah said dialogue should be used to resolve issues rather than resorting to warfare. 

Launching the invasion on 24 February, Russian President, Vladimir Putin told the Russian people his goal was to “demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine.” Putin’s declared aim, as he made known to the world, was to protect people subjected to what he called eight years of bullying and genocide by Ukraine's government. Additionally, he aims at ensuring Ukraine's neutral status.

On 2023 Elections in Liberia

McCarthy told journalists at his nation’s Embassy near Monrovia that his government looks forward to the success of the 2023 Legislative and Presidential Elections.

“To highlight a few things, first, I will like to commend President Weah for his impactful remarks at the UNGA last month, where he stood on the global stage and pledged his government’s commitment to fostering “an environment for the conduct of free, fair, transparent, and inclusive elections” in 2023. The U.S. Government fully supports this commitment, and we look forward to representatives of every other political party in Liberia stepping up to issue similar pledges of peace in the upcoming election cycle,” he said.

Liberia’s next presidential and legislative elections are expected to be held on October 10, 2023 as provided for by the Constitution. President Weah believes he has done well in his first six year term and deserves a reelection to the nation’s highest office, something his critics and many in the opposition community think is unrealistic and anti-development progress to Liberia.

COVID-19 Vaccination in Liberia

The U.S. Ambassador commended the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Liberia for surpassing the WHO COVID-19 vaccination threshold of 70 percent.

“I would like to commend the Ministry of Health for their efforts to vaccinate people against COVID-19. As of today (6 October), it is reported Liberia has vaccinated nearly 72 percent of the targeted number which surpasses the WHO’s threshold of 70 percent. Liberia is the fourth most vaccinated country in Africa,” he said.

McCarthy thanked USAID and Center for Disease Control and prevention at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia for their work with the MOH, noting that “these two agencies have worked tirelessly with the Liberian government and development partner counterparts to achieve this significant milestone.”