In-depth

Alt text for imageBuchanan, Liberia's second city has suffered severe flooding and erosion over the years. A UNDP project supports communities build structures to stop further erosion. (Photo: UNDP)

The post conflict environment in Liberia is being affected by a number of factors ranging from shifting cultivation, soil erosion, unregulated timber exploitation, poaching and hunting, inappropriate mining schemes, insufficient public education and awareness, inadequate law enforcement, and insufficient training in biodiversity management. All of these negative effects are a potential consequence of the level of poverty permeating the society and threatening the country's biodiversity. Poor management and over exploitation of the natural resources of Liberia helped fueled the 14 years civil conflict in the Country. There is a direct correlation between the environment and security and the environment and development.

The Energy and Environment programme works with a range of partners including national and international environmental stakeholders and academic institutions. The capacities of these partners are strengthened to respond to emerging challenges and environmental issues in post-conflict Liberia.

UNDP works with the Environmental Protection Agency as the key government partner and closely collaborates with other relevant government institutions, NGOs, INGO, academic institutions, civil society organizations, universities, UNEP and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

To date, the GEF has been the single largest donor for environmental projects including sustainable land management (SLM), biodiversity and climate change and the small grant program for Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and/or Community Based Organizations (CBOs). The challenges are enormous but key is the mainstreaming of environment in national development plans and policies.

Hence, UNDP’s focus has remained on developing strong partnerships with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs (MPEA), Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and other relevant national institutions and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to support and build the capacity of environmental actors and develop tools to strengthen Liberia's response to the environmental challenges of climate change. 

UNDP continues to be one of the leading agencies providing interventions for sustainable management of Liberia’s natural and environmental resources through many different tailored projects and activities. However, the support has tended to be emergency‐focused in nature rather than longer term strategic aims. Also given the enormity of needs in the sector, UNDP’s support has been broad rather than focused resulting in small islands of successes.

The Energy & Environment five years programme  objective will be delivered through the following components to include Climate change, natural resource management and water governance, disaster risks management and other key activities. Under the climate change management component of the programme, the interventions will focus on agriculture adaptation, coastal adaptation, and early warning system as mitigation measures to strengthen resilience. The emphasis on natural resource management over the next five years will be on education and awareness raising on the sustainable use of water, land and forest by communities to strengthen livelihood.

Over the programme period, work in disaster risks management will focus on the provision of technical support to the government for the institutionalization of disaster risks management through the passage of the policy and the setting up of an agency.

Accomplishments so far

Alt text for imageWith UNDP support, engineers building T-groins in areas affected by sea erosion in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County (Photo: UNDP)

•The first State of the Environment report for Liberia launched. The report highlights waste management and deforestation as the two key environmental issues in Liberia.

•The implementation of two pilot projects in solar energy technology completed with the installation of 123 pieces of solar panels in two schools, two community halls, one clinic and one midwifery center in U-Lah Bong County and Jundu Grand Cape Mount County. The projects were turned over to the communities following series of trainings to maintain the facilities.

•Environmental field offices established in the counties to strengthen environmental awareness activities.

•Motor bikes procured by UNDP to enhance the movement of field inspectors from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

•The environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decentralized following training on three legal instruments (Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia; Act creating the EPA and National environmental policy of Liberia). This was supported by institutional empowerment and training of students and the establishment of Nature Clubs in Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado counties.

• Over 30,000 Eco-stoves produced. A total of 9,268 kitchens belonging to 51,334 households located and serviced with Eco-stoves. Over 60 persons (80% constitutes women and girls) trained in the production of eco-stoves in Monrovia and Tubmanburg.

•Nine woodlot sites, totaling 42 acres transplanted with fast growing indigenous and exotic tree species including economic crops.

• Capacity of 10 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in WASH strengthened to conduct advocacy on WASH governance through partnership with the Liberia WASH Consortium/Oxfam.

•The National Disaster Risk Management Agency documents (policy and act) finalized and pending the Cabinet’s approval.

•County disaster management structures in 15 counties (150 persons) trained in early warning and response to disasters (35% constitutes women).

•The National Action Plan (NAP) and Medium Term Investment Plan (MTIP) for sustainable land management developed and published while the  Liberian National Action Programme to combat desertification developed and printed.

•Eight women networks across Liberia established and 250 rural women trained in disaster risk reduction concepts and documentation of disaster losses.

•About seven women benefitted from an exchange visit to Ghana where these women gained practical experience in Disaster Risk management (DRM).

•A capacity needs assessment that outlined major capacity gaps both at the national and local levels conducted and results published.

•Three disaster risk instruments (a Disaster Risk Management national Policy, National Action Plan for capacity development and a Preparedness and Emergency Response Operational Guide) developed and validated.

•Three regional disaster loss databases established in Grand Gedeh, Nimba and Grand Cape Mount Counties and staff of the Statistics House (LISGIS) trained to manage it.

•About thirty acres of woodlots established around the Lake Piso Multi-purpose Nature Reserve in Grand Cape Mount County. The woodlots when matured are expected to be used by the fishing communities around the lake for fish drying to reduce the pressure on the mangrove vegetations. The mangrove vegetations have the ability to prevent incidents of flooding by reducing waves. Unfortunately the vegetations are under serious threat of cutting for fish drying. The project is intended to reverse the trend.

•A website now serving as a clearing house for biodiversity information launched. Ten nationals trained to manage the website. The website has enhanced the collection of essential data on biodiversity in Liberia.

•Financial support provided for the training of about 42 (8 females and 34 males) environmental inspectors. These inspectors are expected to beef up the strength of environmental inspectors of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assigned across the country.