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Friday, June 14, 2024

GRAND BASSA CIVIL SOCIETY COUNCIL URGES GOL AND INT’L PARTNERS TO IMPLEMENT LOCAL GOV’T ACT FOR DECENTRALIZED DEVELOPMENT

Date:

GRAND BASSA CO., LIBERIA – The nation-state of Liberia was established in 1847, but unfortunately, there has been little or no significant growth in our development activities since then. Basic social services are still lacking in our rural communities and counties, with some areas not having schools, health centers, drinking water, or electricity. Even essential services like obtaining birth certificates or tax clearances are only available in Monrovia, creating a centralized system.

Although there have been some efforts by the government to establish county service centers in six counties, intended to address these challenges, the conditions have not improved significantly. All services remain centralized, despite the understanding that this approach will not accelerate development activities in the counties. This is in contrast to the Local Government Act, which was passed to promote decentralization. Unfortunately, the government has not demonstrated the necessary political will to implement this act fully.

Since the printing of the Local Government Act in 2018, the government, led by the CDC, has refused to implement any part of it until the Civil Society Council of Bong County took legal action to push for the formation of the County Council. It is our hope that the government and its partners will consider the importance of decentralization as outlined in the Local Government Act. This will empower local communities to take charge of their own development activities.

In order for the government to succeed and bring about meaningful change, it must prioritize the implementation of the Local Government Act of 2018. Some organizations and international NGOs have raised concerns about the capacity at the county level. However, we must ask ourselves, has anything changed since 1847 by relying on external organizations to perform tasks that local institutions are capable of handling? Building capacity takes time and effort, and it is a clever attempt to continue marginalizing local institutions from participating in their county’s development drive.

Furthermore, this approach hinders locals from participating in the local economy of their area. In the past, NGOs holding workshops in Buchanan would import caterers from Monrovia, but the county leadership saw this as unfit and put a stop to it. Similarly, contracts from the EU and UN were being awarded to firms in Monrovia, but this practice was curtailed to ensure that citizens were not marginalized from participating in their own economy. When locals were given the opportunity, the county experienced growth in its economic activities.

The benefits of involving local institutions are significant. When locals are given the opportunity to provide services, they can employ locals, pay rental fees, and circulate profits within the local economy. The issue of capacity is often used as an excuse for exclusion, but the track record has shown that local institutions perform better.

Therefore, the Grand Bassa Civil Society Council calls on the government and its international partners to work within the framework of the Local Government Act. By empowering local communities and institutions, we can truly drive development and create a more inclusive and prosperous Liberia.

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