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Liberia

Overview

Population:                                                                                5.06 million

Proportion of population living on less than $1.25 a day:               83%

 Ranking on UN Human Development Index:                                175 out of 189

Partner since                                                                             2005

(c) Panos Picures. Liberia is experiencing poor sanitary condition that is leading to the deaths of over 1,800 children less than five years die each year from diarrhoea – nearly 90% of which is directly attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

Ireland and Liberia

The Government of Ireland first opened a development cooperation office in Liberia in 2010. This was upgraded to an Embassy in 2018 to demonstrate our commitment to deepening and strengthening the relationship and close ties between Liberia and Ireland. Liberia, located on the west coast of Africa, is a country of similar size and population to Ireland. 

Ireland has been supporting the people of Liberia to rebuild their country since the end of the second civil war in 2004.  From 2003-2007, Irish peacekeepers were a key part of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) which supported Liberia's transition after civil war to a peaceful, multi-party democratic country.

The Irish Aid programme in Liberia was established in 2005, and has been supporting health services, gender equality and the governance and security sector.

Our development programmes forms part of our Mission Strategy (2019-2023) and focuses on improved health and nutrition services together with support for strengthening institutions and enabling active participation by Liberians in decision-making processes.

Our Strategy identifies two core outcomes for our work:

• Citizens participate in inclusive democratic processes; and
• Poor women and girls are better nourished and live healthier, safer and empowered lives.

Background

Situated in West Africa, Liberia continues to go through a period of immense change as it makes the transition from decades of civil war towards stability and democracy.

Two successive periods of conflict between 1989 and 1996, and 1999 and 2003 claimed more than a quarter of a million lives, displaced one million people and devastated the country’s social, political and physical infrastructure.

While Liberia has made some tangible progress, it is still one of the world’s poorest countries and was ranked 175 out of 189 countries on the 2020 UN Human Development Index - Ireland is currently ranked 2.

The country continues to face considerable challenges in delivering basic health services and in rebuilding critical infrastructure devastated by the civil war.  Life expectancy is 64 years old, while 44% of the population live under the extreme international poverty line of $1.90 per day.

Poverty in Liberia is projected to increase over the next few years, driven by increasing food prices, lower commodity prices for minerals, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The infant mortality rate, while dropping is still very high at 62 deaths per 1,000 live births and the under-five mortality rate is 85 per 1,000 live births, close to the highest in the world.

While the malnutrition situation has improved significantly, chronic malnutrition (measured by the number of stunted children) with 29.8% of children under 5 years of age affected, which is higher than the average for the Africa region (29.1%). There continue to be significant inequalities in terms of gender, geographical disparities, as well as urban-rural divides.

Liberia is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favourable to agriculture, the principal exports are iron ore, rubber, diamonds, and gold, making Liberia vulnerable to price volatility. Since the end of the second civil war in 2003, Liberia has made considerable progress towards peace and development.

The security situation in the country is stable. Liberia is currently ranked 175 of 190 in the World Bank’s Doing Business report

Our Work

Citizens participate in inclusive democratic processes

Liberia has made strong progress in maintaining multiparty democracy and consolidating peace and stability. However, there are aspects of the political structures that remain fragile.

There are numerous barriers preventing more equitable participation by women in politics. These include cultural norms, lack of access to information and barriers relating to education.

Ireland has partnered with UNDP on its Electoral Support Project, which seeks to support the National Elections Commission to conduct credible, transparent, inclusive, and peaceful electoral processes in Liberia.

Our Embassy also supports UN Women for its work on supporting CSOs to build a women’s leadership culture and promote participation in peacebuilding from the grassroots level. Ireland also supports ZOA and the Peacebuilding Office of Liberia to promote the inclusion of women and people with disabilities (PWDs) in civic and political life, and supporting constructive engagement that contributes to sustained peace in Liberia.

Ireland also supports the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation for its work towards the empowerment and protection of Women and LGBTQIA+ Human Rights Defenders in Liberia.

Also in partnership with UNDP, Ireland supports the Liberia Decentralization Support Programme Phase II, to facilitate the implementation of the National Policy on Decentralisation and Local Government, and Local Government Act of 2018, which includes activities that target decentralisation of administrative, political and fiscal governance in Liberia.

Within this programme, Ireland’s support has a strong focus on the Citizens’ Feedback Mechanism, Gender-responsive Participatory Planning and Budgeting, and the provision of solar energy at county service centers.

Ireland has ongoing partnership with Mercy Corps and supports the programme “Supporting Effective Advocacy in Liberia”, which aims to assist CSOs through their engagement in the formulation and monitoring of public policy.

Poor women and girls are better nourished and live healthier, safer and empowered lives.

High rates of poverty, under nutrition and poor public service provision mean that many Liberians are unable to realize their economic and social rights.

Liberia has the lowest physician per capita ratio in the world and maternal mortality is among the highest in the world. Liberia’s food security situation is worsening, with stunting a major issue with stunting affecting almost one in three children under-five. Additionally, national food security is exposed to the impacts of inflation and currency shocks. Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is commonplace, as are harmful traditional practices including female genital mutilation.

Ireland is currently supporting a multi-sectoral response aiming to improve nutritional status of children under five years of age in Liberia, in partnership with the Liberia WASH Consortium (Action Against Hunger, Concern and Water Aid).

The project is focussed on Grand Bassa and Rural Montserrado, two counties identified as having high global chronic malnutrition. Complementary to this project, Ireland also supports the work of UNICEF for its Working to Improve Nutrition at Scale (WINS) project, our funding supports the adolescent nutrition component of the programme at two critical levels (community and school) across 15 counties in Liberia.

In the reduction of high maternal mortality (742/100,000) and high neonatal mortality (37/1,000), Ireland is supporting the Maternal Childhealth Advocacy International (MCAI) to improve mid-level health care workers (nurses and midwives) in a task sharing program aimed at reducing high maternal and neonatal mortalities across 10 counties in Liberia.

The project is focused on increasing midwives skills in becoming trained obstetrician clinicians; increase skills of nurses to become trained neonatal and paediatric clinicians. Our support also support system strengthening in these counties where clinicians are recruited from into the program so that they are able to return to an improved environment to save lives. As a part of the program to reduce avoidable maternal and neonatal deaths, monthly obstetric outreach programs are done to identify high risk mothers and refer from community to health facility for early intervention.

Ireland is supporting the International Rescue Committee for its project that strengthens local capacity including Community Based Organisations (CBOs, CSOs) in taking ownership and to lead on the prevention of Sexual Gender-based violence within their communities.

Our Embassy is also supporting UNFPA for to improve access to, and utilization of, an integrated SRHR services by adolescents using a multi-sectorial model in Rivercess Country, which has been identified as having the highest teenage pregnancy in the country, coupled with deprived access to SRHR services.

Our Results

At a national level, Liberia has made significant progress in a number of areas:

  • Maternal Mortality Ratio has decreased from 1,072 to 742 from 2013 to 2019
  • Liberia’s Under Five Mortality Rate has decreased from 94 to 93 per 1,000 live births from 2013 to 2019.
  • Proportion of population living below the international poverty line: decrease from 54% to 51%
  • Prevalence of stunting among children under-fives has decreased from 32.1% to 30% from 2013 to 2019.
  • Prevalence of wasting among children has decreased from 6% to 4% from 2013 to 2019.
  • Delivery in health facility increased from 56% to 80% from 2013 to 2019
  • The National Election Commission successfully conducted the General Presidential Elections in 2017, which marked the first transition between democratically elected governments since 1944. Throughout the process, Ireland’s support to the UNDP Electoral Support Project helped provide some support and assistance necessary to make this transition possible.
  • Increase in the appointment of women to local positions (Quarter, Zonal, and Clan chiefs) which had been mainly ascribed to men in some of the targeted communities. 
  • Enhanced coordination between local Civil Society Organizations and the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, leading to the joint revision of public policies and advocacy engagements with national government.

How we have helped:

  • Ireland is currently supporting a multi-sectoral response aiming to improve nutritional status of children under five years of age in Liberia, in partnership with the Liberia WASH Consortium (LWC).
  • Ireland supports the work of UNICEF for its Working to Improve Nutrition at Scale (WINS) project, our funding supports the adolescent nutrition component of the programme at two critical levels (community and school) across 15 counties in Liberia.
  • Ireland supports the work of MCAI, to increase Health Care Workers capacity to contribute to the reduction of maternal, neonatal, infant and child mortality through a national task-sharing program.

Clean water and sanitation make a difference

Visit our page on water and sanitation to learn more what we and our partners do to increase access to safe, clean water and basic sanitation for poor communities