Since Liberia’s civil war ended in the early 2000s, the war-torn nation has struggled to rebuild its economy and improve its infrastructure to provide services to its citizens: particularly education and health care. Since the 1990s, Winrock’s project activities in Liberia have been diverse, including: providing assistance to smallholder palm oil producers, combatting child labor in rubber producing regions, strengthening agriculture and rural development, and implementing rural electrification and renewable energy services. Winrock was also instrumental in providing scholarships and mentoring programs for girls and young women to promote their increased participation in the educational, political and economic activities of their home country.
Encouraging private enterprise in Liberia’s agriculture sector is critical if the country is to lower its high rates of unemployment and poverty. Progress will require extensive changes — everything from bolstering the country’s road infrastructure and weak institutions to promoting the importance of women and youth in agriculture. As a partner on this USAID-funded program, Winrock provides technical assistance to help increase farmer productivity and profitability.
Agriculture, particularly rubber, is an important contributor to the Liberian economy. A significant number of children are involved in the production of rubber due to household poverty, the high cost of adult labor, a lack of awareness about the hazards of work and limited access to education. Under these economic and social conditions, children perform difficult and dangerous labor that affects their health, their ability to attend school and their social development. Winrock confronts the challenges faced by child laborers and their households by raising awareness of the importance of education and the dangers of hazardous work. By forming partnerships with the government and private sector, this program provides material and social support needed to get children back into school. This includes securing income opportunities for parents so that they no longer need to rely on child labor and delivering modern agricultural-vocational training to children in order to increase their opportunities for decent and productive employment.
The government of Liberia has embraced Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) as a tool to improve the management of its forests and capture climate finance opportunities that reward conservation. Winrock is assisting the government in its development of a REDD Readiness Program. In particular, Winrock provides training and technical assistance to develop estimates of both historical greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and expected future emissions in the absence of improved land use management. This information will then be used to demonstrate emissions reductions that result from improved land management.
The palm oil industry has provided economic opportunity to small farmers in the West African nation of Liberia. To build on the progress and benefit even more smallholders, this program works to open up new markets and expand the products that can be made from oil palms. The project also emphasizes the importance of sustainable practices that reduce deforestation and other harmful environmental impacts.
By Rodney Ferguson, President and CEO, Winrock International Mercy Dahn was 9 years old when she began working on her…
Synopsis: Reduce exploitative child labor in Liberian rubber sector Mercy Dahn was 9 years old when she began working on…