Liberia is facing some serious environmental challenges, including coastal erosion, flooding, windstorms and others.
Changing climate and the rapidly growing exposure to disaster risks present the world with an unprecedented challenge, with every nation practically being affected to the extent that Liberia and many other underdeveloped or third-world countries are the most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate change menace.
As such, Liberia is gradually bracing itself for the effects that climate change is having across the globe as its devastating impacts continue to affect millions of people.
To help establish a national disaster management framework, the government, through the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), has therefore begun engaging local stakeholders to raise awareness and disseminate the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Strategy (NDRR&RS) of Liberia, and Strategies and Action Plans for Coastal Adaptation in the country.
“The need for the country to develop a framework for disaster management cannot be overemphasized,” says Augustine Tamba, NDMA Director for Operations.
With funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Mr. Tamba said that the NDMA has begun nationwide consultative efforts to engage residents on disaster related activities in communities.
The process began in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, where stakeholders from the Western region (Bomi, Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties) converged for a two-day workshop.
NDMA Project Officer, Jonathan Wordsworth, said the workshop was meant to widen citizens’ participation, solicit local inputs to the strategy and trigger community ownership by utilizing a community-based approach.
“This engagement is meant to present the National Disaster Risk Reduction (NDRR&RS) to local authorities, and community leaders, while providing an explicit understanding of what the document is, and what is expected of them,” Wordsworth said.
This is also meant to reaffirm hotspots and hazards identified in the communities and documented in the strategy.
UNDP is working with the NDMA to put into operation a comprehensive disaster management plan, especially for climate related disasters such as flooding, windstorm and coastal erosion.
According to the organizers, the key output of this is to strengthen adaptive capacity, and reduce exposure to climate risks of livelihoods, and infrastructure in vulnerable communities.
Under this engagement, local stakeholders, government officials and UNDP are working to ensure that the design of the NDRR and National Adaptation Plan (NAP) are tailored to the specific climate change needs of the communities.
“UNDP is providing critical contributions to tackle climate change adaptation and disaster risk management,” the Disaster Risk Management Expert at the UNDP, Fairnoh T. Gbilah, said.
According to him, a number of pressing development challenges exist that need speedy and prompt actions in order to reduce threats of climate change-exacerbated floods, coastal erosion and windstorms.
"This is the situation that the country must start to address now,"Gbilah stressed.
Climate projections for Liberia suggest that the risks will increase over time, which can potentially undermine development in the country.