UNDP Response to the Ebola Crisis
UNDP’s overall goal in the EVD Response which hit Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in 2014 was and continues to be driven by the need to stop the infection, build resilience and strengthen capacities at the national and community levels, and in ensuring early recovery and improved livelihoods for EVD affected communities and households.
In all this, care was taken to ensure strict adherence to the guiding principles of programme criticality ensuring that programme activities undertaken were balanced against risks. As a result of this, UNDP Liberia re-programmed some $1.5 million from TRAC to kick-start its support to the government on the national EVD response. For other non-core resources (secured mostly through specific cost-sharing agreements with donors), formal notifications were made pointing to the delivery challenge, the programme criticality exercise and exploration of possible re-programming of funds to support the EVD response. Among those who responded positively was Sweden who offered to have its balance of $1.8m re-programmed subject to projects proposals which they invited.
UNDP adopted a two-pronged approach in its response: emergency response, building into early recovery and restoration of livelihoods especially at the community level. The former has been running between September through to December 2014, while the latter has run side-by-side through the design of safety nets programme seeking to provide protection to the most vulnerable groups via provision of social safety nets to mitigate the negative impact on the economy and restore livelihoods, along with increased community engagement in containment strategies and localized quarantines. By so doing, UNDP has been able to position itself in the response, drawing from its comparative advantage, and working through and with a variety of partners, national and international, engaged in the EVD response.
As part of the emergency response, UNDP started off by providing support to strengthen community engagement and building the capacity of local level actors to respond faster to crisis and put in place early recovery actions in its aftermath. It works with and through County Ebola Task Forces/Incident Management Teams focusing on, among other priorities, improving existing Ebola isolation centres; in boosting public information and sensitization campaigns; in forging partnerships with opinion leaders, including traditional and religious leaders, as well as in improving tracking of Ebola cases and tracing people who have had contact with those diagnosed with the virus. At the strategic and policy level, UNDP is working with the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Health and Social Welfare in providing this support. Owing to the nature of the epidemic in Montseraddo, a special attention is being paid with specific focus on the EVD hot-spots.
UNDP has also led the Early Recovery Cluster, a partner platform that has been instrumental in articulating measures intended tobring about early economic revitalization, creating improved conditions to restore the foundations for local development. The activation of this Cluster co-chaired by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning helped to recast the health response, framing it as an integrated, inclusive, and coordinated approach to faster reach longer term re-development, using emergency mechanisms in accordance with development principles.
Within the UN, UNDP provided support to the RC and the UNCT in establishing a coordinated platform to ensure coherence and consistency between UN Agencies, including UNMIL, with Government institutions, NGOs, international military contingents and with the UN Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER). Within the UNMEER structure, UNDP was assigned the responsibility of designing a system to execute payments to health workers ensuring harmonization of rates and partner coordination.
Governance, Pubilc Institutions and Conflict Prevention
DDRR-UNDP participated in a task force of international organizations including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The World Bank, UMMIL, UNIFEM, UNICEF, USAID, World Food Programme and the World Health Organization. The task force led to the 2003 completion of an action plan for DDRR. The UN Country Team, including UNDP, assisted the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation with nationwide educational programmes for ex-combatants (in cantonment centres) and the distribution of information about DDRR. The primary UNDP role was to support rehabilitation and reintegration, focusing on ex-combatants in designated counties. This was funded under a UNDP Trust Fund for Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation. The Fund served as a mechanism for donors to contribute to the process with guarantees of transparency and accountability. It ultimately funded over 200 projects. Overall, there is strong agreement that UNDP support to DDRR was relevant and closely tracked the government’s priorities and the Security Council mandates from 2004 to 2007.
Truth and Reconciliation-UNDP and other donors supported the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and provided technical support through the Commission's Working Group. UNDP support to the Commission enabled it to hold hearings, to draft and publish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and to hear over 30,000 witness statements. Donors and stakeholders widely acknowledged UNDP support as satisfactory.
Support to Justice and Security - UNDP has been instrumental in strengthening capacities and national primacy of the judiciary, Liberia National Police (LNP), the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, and Corrections. It has helped managed several programmes, including training programmes at the National Police Training Academy and rehabilitating infrastructure through projects to renovate and construct police facilities. UNDP has also provided support to the Governance Commission to develop a draft national security policy. UNDP implemented capacity building projects for the LNP which seek to strengthen capacities through training and restructuring. These projects have helped strengthen the Ministry of Justice through the development of the Liberia National Police as a viable, democratically principled law enforcement agency. They have also enhanced LNP operational capacity throughout Liberia and built the capacities of the Ministry of Justice, with a view towards increasing public confidence in the LNP, increasing the LNP presence at county level, raising levels of integrity and accountability through education, strengthening institutional oversight and internal investigation, and developing and implementing a set of national police standards and practices. These projects have also reinforced commitments to specialized training, facilities and equipment programmes in border areas, reinforcing strategic security sector initiatives within the Liberia Reconstruction and Development Committee Security Pillar of the Government. UNDP and UNMIL collaborated to provide training to the LNP on human rights and women’s issues, reaching over 3,000 police officers. UNDP has also encouraged the LNP to implement gender sensitive recruitment procedures. UNDP acted as the executing agency for a comprehensive programming package to build LNP capacities within the context of the 2008-2013 LNP Strategic Plan. UNDP enhanced the relationship between the Police and Civilians in Communities project with Peace building Fund resources in partnership with the Ministry of Justice. The intervention was directed at communities and community leaders, LNP officers and supervisors. Seminars and trainings have helped increase capacities for joint identification and addressing crimes in communities. The provision of infrastructure and logistical support have enabled community forums to be effective and facilitated the deployment of uniformed police in rural and high-crime areas. The project’s intended results also included increased number of emergency and non-emergency calls between citizens and the police, thus, reducing intra-community tensions. UNDP supported youth participation as Peace Ambassadors under the Programme for Employment and Empowerment of Young Women and Men in Liberia that included a “Volunteers for Peace Project.” The programme appears to have mitigated a number of community-level disputes. Further, UNDP is supporting the construction of five regional Justice and Security Hubs to house LNP Emergency Response Units, Police Support Units and the Liberian Immigration Service. The Police Support Units will be in five regions and have 120 riot officers in each hub. The principle of the regional hub is to increase the speed of deployment and overall efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, Over 1,000 victims of sexual and gender based violence in Bong, Nimba and Lofa Counties were provided prosecutorial, psychosocial, educational, medical and socio-economic support services, inclusive are 730 calling cards. These services have assisted in maintaining a victim-centered approach to providing prosecutorial and other services, to these victims.
Elections-In 2005 and 2011 UNDP managed the Liberia Emergency Governance Fund and a Donor Basket Fund respectively, to support the National Elections Commission conduct free fair and democratic elections in the Country, in which over 1.8 million eligible voters exercised their franchise. UNDP, in addition to administering funds and coordination, has made contributions in the form of: Procuring essential furniture and equipment including computers for data-processing; printing and procuring ballots and registration cards; procuring indelible ink and other essential supplies; designing, organizing and convening voters’ education events and materials; organizing and holding various trainings and workshops for Election magistrates, polling staff, Female aspirants, Legislators, civil society and community based groups, as well as national elections commission field officers placed in the 15 counties to manage elections. Additionally, construction of warehouses for the storage of ballots and ballot boxes, producing and transporting billboards, Procuring telecommunications equipment to monitor and manage elections; printing voter registration regulations as flyers as well as setting up a media center and establishing a mobile media unit for voter education and for recording the proceedings during elections. According to programme partners, UNDP played a positive, assertive and leading role in coordinating support to the election process and continues to be a funding vehicle for the National Election Commission now in charge of the forthcoming constitutional referendum and the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections. UNDP has co-chaired the coordination committee for support to the National Elections, providing appreciated leadership (including in moments of some difficulty and disagreement). In 2014,UNDP supported the National Elections Commission to conduct a major Senatorial election in the Country, in the midst of the Ebola crisis. Supported Interventions leading to the holding of these elections include voters' roll update exercise which recorded 1.9 million people registered to participate in the 2014 Senatorial Elections, Civic and voters education, nation-wide consultations with political parties, and other key stakeholders as well as training of NEC Staff and procurement of ballots and other logistics.
Legislative Reform-UNDP assisted the Liberian Legislature to address deficiencies in staffing and capacity, particularly in the standing committees. This has enabled the Legislature to effectively perform its oversight and law-making functions, to strengthen the role of the legislature as an independent branch of government and to broaden citizens’ democratic participation. The UNDP approach has been primarily one of facilitating the functioning of both Houses (Representatives and Senate) with a view towards ensuring the smooth functioning of the institution rather than spearheading any major reforms or changes to the rules of procedure.
Strengthening Transparency, Accountability, Oversight and Participation (STAOP)
The STAOP Programme contributes to government and other actors’ efforts to strengthen corruption prevention, transparency and accountability in Liberia. The project adopted a three- prong strategy that focuses on establishing a broad consensus on the need to incorporate the principles of integrity, transparency and accountability in governance; strengthening institutional capacity and coordination to promote transparency and accountability, and curbing impunity by creating opportunities for civic engagement to monitor public sector and engage in transparency and accountability mechanisms. It provides support to both state institutions (relevant line ministries, agencies and oversight institutions) and civil society organizations to increase transparency and accountability in governance processes.
Governnace Commission- Continuous UNDP partnership in support of the Governance Commission (consisting of a group of eminent Commissioners under the Chairmanship of a widely respected former President of the Republic) has been central to the UNDP strategy for influencing and supporting the most complex and fundamental structural reforms in Liberia. UNDP provided substantial support to the Governance Commission’s work on decentralization, channeling all of its funding, over $1million, to it. UNDP also supported the Governance Commission on Public Sector Reform and and in promoting the professionalization of the civil service. Work in this area has complemented that under decentralization, as the deployment of ministerial capacity under a regime of progressive de-concentration. UNDP has taken a two-pronged approach in its work on decentralization and local governance. It supported a pilot programme through the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Liberia Decentralization and Local Governance Programme) that applied a United Nations Capital Development Fund model to demonstrate the viability of fiscal decentralization at the county and district levels. UNDP also provided upstream support for policy development through the Governance Commission. The National Integrity Barometer Report was launched, printed and distributed to partners and stakeholders. The report was commissioned by the National Integrity Forum (NIF) and is a result of a survey conducted in 2013 to gauge the public’s experience of corrupt practices in Liberia. It covers service delivery in the health, education, judiciary, civil protection and business sectors. This initiative was led by the Governance Commission.
Land Commission-UNDP supported the processes that led to the establishment of the Land Commission. This led to the preparation of an issues paper and ultimately to the Act on the Land Commission. UNDP supported the development of a National Information Centre that is collecting data on boundaries and parcels in rural areas of Liberia. It supported construction of the Land Commission’s premises and the functioning of its steering committee. UNDP provided support to the Governance Commission and the Law Reform Commission to conduct a desk review and analysis of Supreme Court cases and rulings on land matters, including customary land matters, in order to facilitate the Land Commission’s law reform work.
National Human Rights Commission-UNDP supported the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, a process that took three years to complete. UNDP provided training, operational funds, capacity support, reporting capabilities and monitoring capabilities. As a result of UNDP support, the National Human Rights Commission was formally established in November 2011. UNDP provided support for advocacy, awareness, training and dialogue on the critical roles of the Commission, and supported a conference on national human rights commissions. Capacity-building and ongoing support to the Commission have helped the Commission take up any situation or violation of human rights it deems necessary and has the power to issue subpoenas and summonses to compel witnesses to provide documents or other evidence and testimony (it also has the discretion to decline an investigation).
Liberia Anti-corruption Commission-In view of the importance of anti-corruption initiatives as a means of establishing institutional state legitimacy and eliminating an underlying cause of conflict, UNDP provided support to the new Liberian Anti-corruption Commission with a view towards supporting the Governance Commission to prepare the act establishing the Commission. The Anti-corruption Commission credits UNDP with furnishing critical assistance in establishing the Commission. Assistance with logistics, provision of equipment, vehicles and computers helped to get the Commission office started. UNDP support enabled the Commission to reach 12 of 15 counties in Liberia and it enabled the Commission to hold town hall meetings throughout Liberia on corruption and the impact of corruption on the country. There is a greater public awareness of the Liberian Anti-corruption Commission and a greater government transparency of the government due to UNDP support. There is corroborating evidence of a slight reduction in levels of corruption in Liberia. For example, Transparency International gave Liberia a score of 3.3 in its ‘2010 Corruption Perceptions Index’. This represents a marked improvement from Liberia’s score of 2.1 in 2005 2.1 in 2007; 2.4 in 2008 and 3.1 in 2009. The beginning of efforts to intensify effective collaboration between governance institutions, key line ministries and agencies, civil society organizations including the press and women and youth groups necessary for enhancing the fight against corruption, was manifested in 2013 with the development of the National Integrity Framework for Collaboration (2014 – 2017) by a national consultant in November 2013.
National Capacity-UNDP’s National Capacity Development Program implemented several interventions through partners like the Civil Service Agency, and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs MPEA. This program has been able to address capacity challenges through a two-pronged approach: Response to the short term capacity needs through quick infusions of skilled expertise with requisite incentive systems and the formulation of long-term National Capacity Development Strategy (NCDS) and integration of technical expertise with the capacities to plan, manage and deliver together with the ‘soft skills’ that promote dialogue, trust and long-term consensus-building. These interventions helped to strengthen national capacity as the key means for achieving growth and promote equity in Liberia in line with the country’s long-term vision as articulated in the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS, 2008-2011), the UNDAF and the CPAP.
TOKTEN- Under the Transfer of Knowledge thru Expatriates National (TOKTEN) program, the Liberia Emergency Capacity Building Support program (LECBS) and the Senior Executive Service program (SES), support has helped to bolster capacity & improve service delivery. NCD supported the holding of a high level round table for Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Directors on the theme “Enhancing Capacity for Effective Leadership in Government”. Also, with support from this project, an independent Mid Term Evaluation was conducted on TOKTEN. The evaluation highlights recommendations on performance monitoring and evaluation, integration & linkages, exit strategy, etc. Operational and technical support was also provided to project secretariats at the Civil Service Agency (CSA) in monitoring and reporting, including field monitoring. Similar support was also provided at the National Capacity Development Unit at the Ministry of Planning in strengthening its capacity to coordinate its activities.
SES-UNDP has, under its Senior Executive Service Programme, provided expertise and supported the Governance Commission in virtually all of its work. The Commission generated studies on key issues such as fiscal decentralization and the alignment of traditional governance structures with official structures at the local level. The Governance Commission took on some of the most intractable structural issues that lie at the root of the malaise in Liberia that led to armed conflict.
ECOMAN-Under the Capacity Building for Governance and Economic Management Project (2004–2008), UNDP applied $350,000 to support the budget review process, procuring furniture and equipment, establishing a donor coordination committee, supporting a team of experts to undertake a legislative needs assessment, and drafting of the ‘Modernization Plan 2009–2013: Making the Liberian Legislature 21st Century Compliant. Continuous UNDP partnership in support of the Governance Commission has been central to the UNDP strategy for influencing and supporting the most complex and fundamental structural reforms in Liberia.
Inclusive Financial Sector- Support to an inclusive financial sector was one of the key strategies for poverty reduction under the economic policy and management programme area of UNDP. A key objective for the UNDP programme was “capacity development for formulation and implementation of a micro finance policy to promote socially responsive business enterprise with an emphasis on small and medium-enterprises.” This builds on UNDP-supported projects under community based recovery and development. Providing microcredit to cooperatives and women’s groups led to the establishment of village savings and loans associations that focused on credit for poor and vulnerable groups. UNDP has worked with the United Nations Capital Development Fund to support the Central Bank of Liberia develop a framework and policy for regulation of microfinance services that are already in place, leading to the Microfinance Regulatory and supervisory framework for Liberia. The village savings and loans schemes have empowered women by increasing their productivity and providing them with added independence. The women have started several micro-business projects. Funds from micro businesses have enabled women to pay school fees and meet other immediate needs. Interest rates imposed by village savings and loans associations vary somewhat and are imposed by the members themselves. Women receive loans in proportion to their contributions to the Village Savings. The programme is working with several microfinance institutions and has reached thousands of clients.
Private Sector Development and Natural Resources Management- creates an enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable private sector development, Strengthen the capacity of local entrepreneurs for improved productivity and competitiveness and; Supports the effective governance of the natural resources sector to enable it stimulate Liberia’s growth and development in an inclusive manner. As a result of supported interventions under this program, A Structural and Strategic Framework for Private Sector Development in Liberia was established following 5 nationwide consultations on Private Sector development. This framework is being used to improve the understanding of local businesses in the area of agri –business while an Entrepreneurship support programme has been created to improve the understanding of value-chain among Local farmers and other Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Cassava sector.