The West Africa Initiative of Liberia (WAIOL) has been honored by UNDP Liberia for winning the 2012 Equator Prize, a prestigious international award that recognizes innovation and leadership in community-based sustainable development approaches.
At a ceremony held recently in Monrovia, the Country Director of the United Nations Development Program Dominic Sam congratulated WAIOL through its Executive Director Ezekiel Freeman. Presenting the award, Mr. Sam noted that climate change and energy management is vital to the sustainability of the Country. Expressing his excitement over Liberia’s achievement, the UNDP Country Director emphasized the need for all Liberians to exhibit a peaceful posture in all that they do as the country makes strides in its development agenda.
Representing the Government of Liberia, Deputy Commerce Minister Saye Gahn extolled the West Africa Initiative for the pride it has brought to the Country through this award. He encouraged others to follow the footpath of the group by continuing the struggle of putting Liberia on the world map through various development programs. Minister Gahn
Informed the gathering that his Ministry will help disseminate information on such initiative so more Liberians can get involved.
Responding on behalf of his Institution, the Executive Director of WAIOL Ezekiel Freeman expressed appreciation to the Equator Award Committee for the recognition. “We are very happy to receive this award and would like to say thank you to UNDP for its support” said Freeman.
The Equator Initiative is a partnership that brings together the UN, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities, and is one of twenty-five community initiatives that were awarded the prize last year, after being selected from 812 nominations submitted by communities in 113 countries across the world.
“These community efforts are heroic and inspiring,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. “And that is what the Equator Prize is all about –shining a spotlight on the women and men on the front lines of sustainable development. At UNDP, we are deeply proud of leading this partnership initiative that provides a voice for communities.”
The West Africa Initiative of Liberia was recognized for its outstanding work to develop livelihood options in Liberia, giving communities viable alternatives to hunting and illegal logging. The Initiative provides unemployed, rural farmers with equipment and training in apiculture, snail-raising and tree-planting. Participants are also given access to leadership training, guidance on small business development, and a revolving microcredit fund.
To date, training has been provided to more than 1,000 farmers, with improved incomes invested in education, health and community infrastructure.
The group has established a business arm, Liberia Pure Honey and Moringa Promoters Incorporated, which promotes and purchases farmers’ products, negotiates fair prices, and assists with packaging, sales and distribution across Liberia.