Tuesday, September 7, 2010

USADF Gives U.S.$477,000 Grant to Five Local NGOs to Boost Economic Development

Source: allAfrica.com

The United States African Development Foundation (USADF) has signed five grants totaling US$477,039 to support grassroots groups in Liberia.
The grants will benefit Agriculture Relief Services (ARS), Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy, Inc (COPDA). Kokoyah Multipurpose Cooperative and Development Society (Kokoyah), Mamadee Konneh United Blacksmith Shop, and SAMJAC Agro Industry.
USADF is a United States Government agency dedicated to expanding access to economic opportunities to the most marginalized populations in Africa, which currently operates in 20 countries on the continent. Over the past 25 years, USADF has funded in excess of $200 million in African initiated and led development projects.

The Foundation re-started programming in Liberia in 2006 at the invitation of President Johnson-Sirleaf, and Liberia's current portfolio stands at eighteen investment projects totaling approximately $2.5 million.

Commenting on the grants, USADF President Lloyd Pierson stated, "Liberia is committed to economic development and food security projects. These grants will support community groups increase production, create jobs, and further support the local economies of Liberia."

ARS provides agricultural extension services to the 350 smallholder farmers of Lower Tappita, where food production in Nimba County is concentrated. ARS has, according to a USADF statement, been involved in economic empowerment activities through seeds and tools distribution to 10,500 farmers and peace education for over 4,000 Liberian and Guinean citizens.

Farmers now have growing quantities of plantains, cassava, yams, and hot peppers for sale, but are unable to effectively access the main markets in areas such as Southeast Liberia and Monrovia. The statement said there is currently no cooperative association in Lower Tappita that can assist the farmers to organize themselves for more profitable sales. USADF will work with ARS to organize workers, provide training, and construct marketing booths, and purchase equipment.

COPDA works to alleviate poverty in rural communities in Liberia by providing technical assistance in human rights, peace, and economic development. Currently COPDA, according to USADF, is working with small grassroots farmers in Sanniquellie District to expand food crop cultivation by providing technical assistance, tools, and basic supplies as incentives.

Through these efforts, farmers from several of these isolated communities realized the need to organize themselves to achieve greater impact. Farmers in these areas currently produce cassava as their main surplus food crop, but are unable to access profitable markets due to high transport costs for fresh cassava and limited production capacity for processed cassava products USADF funds will be used to finance milling facilities, new tools, training, and hire local specialists who will assist farmers to establish cooperative associations.

Kokoyah is a farmers' cooperative that promotes lowland rice cultivation and provides inputs, milling, and marketing services to its members in Kokoyah District of Bong County. The cooperative currently has 403 registered members, including 174 women. Kokoyah is reorganizing now to re-establish its rice production and marketing systems that were destroyed during the civil war.

This former rice exporting area currently does not meet local demand for rice because of the destruction of previously developed lowland rice fields and reduced cultivation due to displacement local residents.

With the return of residents to their communities, the statement noted, cooperative members see the national reduction of rice production coupled with rapidly rising prices for this staple commodity as a serious potential threat to security. USADF says it will provide funding for training, establishment of a crop purchase fund, and equipment.

Mamadee Konneh United Blacksmith Shop is a small business that provides metalworking services in Bong County. Farming is the dominant economic activity in Bong County, where reintegration of displaced residents and youth is central to improved physical and food security.

However, scarcity of metal farming tools and processing machines following the civil conflict in Liberia has limited the production capacity of local farms. The group manufactures agricultural tools and equipment for local smallholder farms and businesses provides blacksmith training to local youth.

The business currently trains youth and has provided apprenticeships for 25 young men in the community. Although the business is modestly profitable, it does not have adequate operating capital and equipment to satisfy the increasing the demand for these products and services.

Funds will go to establishing a larger workshop, the purchase raw materials, and training. Based in Margibi County, SAMJAC provides agricultural and marketing services to low income farmers engaged in producing hot pepper, peanuts, and cassava.

To date, most agricultural support projects have been of short duration focused on helping local residents to return and resettle in their communities, rather than strengthening and improving farmers' capacity to engage in sustainable farming activities.

Little emphasis has been placed on helping farmers involved in similar production activities to pool their efforts to increase productivity and incomes. The grant will provide funds for training, a new milling facility, and technical assistance.

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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