By Garmonyou Wilson
The Statutory District of Kokoyah in Bong County can now support some of the needs of its citizenry as the district has been equipped with newly constructed or renovated school buildings, clinics, roads, and hand pumps as part of the Millennium Village Project.
From Gbecohn Town to Doe Town and beyond; structures have been completed to transform the District to reflect the aspirations of its citizens.Telecommunications to living facilities have been put in place so that the doctors, nurses and teachers that would be used to keep the district up and running can have adequate housing.
The Kokoyah Millennium Village project aims to integrate the interventions needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Kokoya, Bong County in Central Liberia. This unique initiative demonstrates how a typical district of approximately 24,000 people can make significant progress in achieving the MDGs. It also aims at transforming subsistence livelihoods into small-scale commercial entrepreneurships and provides an example of how villages can achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 target date.
Since 2008 the project had suffered several setbacks; for a number of years the project completely shut down as its lone donor, the Norwegian Government had pulled for many justifiable reasons.
Residents of Botota, in the District, criticized the activities of the Project to Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf some time ago and called for a full participation and implementation of plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) by 2015.
In a brief statement to the President, former Deputy Speaker, Tokpah J. Mulbah indicated that the project, which seeks to improve the socio-economic and infrastructural development of the District lacked the residents’ involvement and that there was no tangible impact being felt by the villagers. He added that the people of that District were discontented about the way the project is being implemented in their village.
However since the project was refocused in 2011 and taken over by the Liberian government and the United Nations Developmental Program (UNDP), though there are still challenges many citizens are seeing tangible results.
Aloysius Kollie from Gbecohn Town said that all what has been done throughout the district is a sign that better things would happen in the near future for the people. The Officer in Charge at the Gbecohn Clinic, Edwin Paye said that his work has been made easier by the addition of a maternal waiting room to the clinic because in the past, pregnant women had to be turned away because there was no room for them, even if they had come from distances.
Grace Togba said that what she is satisfied over is the Bobota High School, although the work has not been completed. The Millennium Village Project has given to the District many other things that include a multipurpose center and 15 hand pumps to help make other developments more accessible to Liberians living there.
David Dolo, another resident of the District said that the UNDP and the Liberian government were doing well with the refocused project that is bringing more tangible results to the people.
Esther Kpoto, a teacher at the Gbarta Elementary School said that the newly constructed school is great but now it would be up to the district to put in some benches for the students, something she said could be done locally. Anne Moses told this paper what she wishes to see now with all the development that is going on is a supermarket so that she could work there.
The Project Manager for the Millennium Village Project at the UNDP, Samuel Ndingi said UNDP Liberia, inspired by the Millennium Village Project concept headed by one Professor Jeffery Sachs, who serves as MDGs Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General planned the first Millennium Village; as part of a new global approach to lift developing countries’ rural sectors out of the poverty trap that afflicts more than a billion people worldwide. The project was launched by the United Nations Secretary General to develop an implementation plan to achieve the MGDs by 2015.
Mr. Ndingi continued that the Kokoyah project was selected as Liberia’s first Millennium Village Project, which aims at integrating the interventions needed to achieve the MDGs at the village level. It provides a basis for scaling up and integrating best practices in the areas of agriculture, education, nutrition, health, water and the environment.
For his part the Liberian Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA), Morris Dukuly said during an interview with this paper that the major challenge with the project is that Liberian contractors are not performing to expectation and as of December 31 many of the contractors would have their contracts reviewed and those who are not doing well will have their contracts terminated.
He then said that what is needed for the project to be maintained is a “Mary Broh styled Saturday” to be throughout the country.