The days are now flying by. Just when Liberia starts to feel like home..
This week, I accompanied the Danish donor agencies, UN Women and UNICEF (technical partners for a number of MoGD programs) for two field trips – Grand Cape Mount County and Bong County to meet beneficiaries of various programs. Driving out to the counties comprise my favorite moments in Liberia and visiting one called ‘Bong’ added to the fun J
The road to Grand Cape Mount is fairly smooth, but the road to Bong is not. The latter takes at least 4 hours (twice the time to Grand Cape Mount) and is ridden with potholes. But the lush green misty scenery and visiting the women beneficiaries of a food and nutrition project (fish farming) was well worth it.
Unfortunately as I understand more and more the complex and interdependent web of donors, technical partners and MoGD involvement, I am convinced that the development aid initially received primarily through the Danish and Spanish governments in Liberia has been spread too thin and has not benefited as much as it should have. E.g. the FSN (Food, Security and Nutrition) pilot project initiated 2 years back to impart fishing and farming skills to rural women has resulted in a profit of 4040 Liberian$ for 27 women. After 2 years of time, energy and money spent on UN and local vehicles, staff, logistics expenditure etc - that's about 2US$/ woman.
The week ends with interviews with the Procurement and Personnel divisions within the Ministry to assess their capacity. Whilst an intern like me can access fast internet (by Liberian standards), the Procurement office staffed with 4 officers serving a 200+ MoGD staff does not get internet. At all.
Below are pictures from the field trips (family planning and cassava production for economic empowerment projects)...more details on a 10 year girl talking about abstinence from sex to follow soon.
Now the obligatory tourist update:
Last Sunday, we went to Ducor Palace Hotel as part of a city tour conducted by Barefoot Safaris. Initially operated by the Intercontinental Hotel chain, the now devastated building overlooks a blue-green Atlantic Ocean, the Saint Paul River and Monrovia’s West Point slum. With its 300 rooms, rooftop restaurant, swimming pool and tennis courts, the hotel was the only 5 star in Monrovia, hosting guests from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and professionals from US, Europe and Asia. The hotel closed in 1989, just before the first civil war during which the hotel was looted, rampaged and stripped of any signs of its former glory.
Fun fact: The Liberian government gave the contract for the hotel renovation to the Libyan government in 2008. Needless to say, certain events in Libya made sure renovation has not even started in this beautiful and ruined structure.
Below: HKSers being tourists (more like the MPA IDs being tourists with the first chance they got in the open air outside of Taubman computer lab).