By Victor C. Hanson, Jr
The United Nation Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection over the weekend signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Tubmanburg, Bomi County to assist in supporting the social safety net in the country.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the UNDP Administrator expressed optimism that since Liberia is very close to zero Ebola cases, she hopes there will also be more progress in Guinea and Sierra Leone very soon.
Madam Clark acknowledged everyone for whatever assistance was given in helping to contain the Ebola virus disease and added, “I hope the decentralization process will help so that more power can go to the people and those in local areas must be given opportunities because they are part of the society; they want to be engaged; they want to lead; they want to serve and they also want to achieve their destiny”.
Madam Clark said the health system needs rebuilding and obviously media owners in the country will need support and children that have been messed up will catch up.
She said leaving the capital to meet with the people in those rural areas pleases her because there are rural areas in her country so she would like to move in those rural areas in the country.
Madam Clark concluded with condolence to all those who have fallen in the fight against the deadly Ebola in the country.
Also making remark at the ceremony, Gender Minister, Julia Duncan Cassell, said the UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark’s visit was indeed timely as all Liberians begin to normalize their lives after the struggle to contain the deadly Ebola virus that has threatened Liberians’ identity as people and a nation.
Min. Cassell expressed that beyond the terrible toll in human lives and suffering, the Ebola epidemic has had a measurable economic impact in terms of higher fiscal deficits, rising prices, lower real household incomes and increased poverty.
She mentioned that evidence already indicate that the protracted period of the Ebola epidemic has had catastrophic consequences on the lives of the general population, particularly households directly affected by Ebola epidemic, including the extremely poor and labour constraint households.
Min. Cassell said an independent evaluation conducted for the government by Boston University with support from UNICEF in 2011, showed compelling evidence that the STC programme improved food security, education, access to health and economic condition of beneficiary households.
Min. Cassell asserted that in Bomi and Maryland County, there are over 3,800 beneficiary households with over 70 percent receiving payments being female, while 17,000 individuals have benefited with over 500 children who have benefited from the school bonus.
“It is in this regard, that UNDP’s decision to support social safety net in our country could not have come at a more appropriate time. I am of the firm conviction that this action will be recorded in history as an enduring legacy of development assistance to a fragile state,” she asserted.
Min. Cassell concluded that the long term goal of all of the programmes is to prevent the inheritance of intergenerational poverty.