Kevin in Liberia

Its Purpose: to raise awareness of current social, political, ethical, and spiritual issues within a relief and development context in Liberia. Its effectiveness is simple: It relies on me, the author, to provide insightful, and often debate-sparking material that will encourage you, the reader to get engaged through comment contributions, emails, and promoting others to read, re-think, and respond to the important issues discussed.

I know not which is most profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world. That discernment is beyond the power of men or angels, and is hidden among the secrets of your Providence, which I adore, but do not seek to fathom. ~ a prayer by Blaise Pascal

Saturday, December 16, 2006

HCS Situation Report


Repatriation of Residual IDPs Ends

The repatriation of 5,500 former IDPs ended on 4 December with the final convoy of 169 persons to their communities of origin in Lofa County. On 3 October 2006, UNHCR, the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) and other partners in the IDP Consultative Forum started the resettlement of an estimated 5,500 former IDPs who were identified as residual cases by an interagency joint verification exercise in mid-2006. The IDPs included those who were omitted from the official resettlement of IDPs for various reasons, and have been living in camps outside Monrovia and in other areas.

UNHCR and its partners have to date assisted 326,824 IDPs to return to their places of origin and provided them with non-food-items, secondary transportation allowance and protection assistance since the exercise commenced in November 2004. Humanitarian agencies have directed assistance to improve basic social services in areas of high IDP return.

Update on Refugee and IDP Return in Lofa County

According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), between October 2004 and 8 December 2006, 69,697 IDPs have returned to Lofa County spontaneously. Most of the spontaneous returnees are concentrated in Salayea District (37%), Zorzor District (32.7%), and Voinjama District (27.3%). NRC also estimates that during the same period, 124,047 Liberian refugees returned to Lofa County unassisted. These refugees returned mainly to, and are concentrated in Foya District (32%), Voinjama District (29.7%), and Kolahun District (20.5%). From these data, NRC estimates the population of Lofa County during the period at 364,453 people.

The data indicate that districts which lie on the borders between Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, have the highest rates of spontaneous return of Liberia refugees. However, Vahun District, which lies close to Sierra Leone, has received fewer numbers of returnees due partly to poor road conditions. Lofa County borders Guinea and Sierra Leone, and a large portion of its pre-war population fled to these countries.


Official Launch of Child Survival Programme in Grand Cape Mount County

The President of Liberia officially launched a USAID-funded Child Survival Programme in Grand Cape Mount County. The North-West Medical Team will implement the project in collaboration with the Christian Health Association of Liberia and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The programme will be funded by a US$ 1.25 million USAID grant and a US$ 710,000 match in supplies and medicines. It will focus on nutrition, pneumonia case management, control of diarrhoeal diseases, immunizations, and prevention and treatment of malaria. Additionally, it will train 150 community health care workers and 250 traditional birth attendants.

Suspected Cholera Cases on the Decline in Liberia

Surveillance reports from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare indicate that the number of reported, suspected cholera cases increased gradually from January to September 2006 and declined afterwards. The reports showed an association between the rainy season and an increase in cholera cases. During the height of the rainy season (June – September), there was an increase in the number of suspected and actual cases of cholera and diarrhea in Montserrado, Grand Bassa and other Counties. The Government of Liberia in collaboration with it is partners (WHO, UNICEF, etc.) devised and implemented various case management and preventive measures to address the situation.


Agriculture Agencies Estimate Gaps in Seed Rice Availability

The Agriculture Coordination Committee (ACC) in Liberia estimates a gap of 3,015.5 MT to meet seed rice requirements for an estimated 140,660 targeted farmers in 2007. According to the ACC, agencies have so far committed only 500 MT to meet the estimated requirements of 3,516.5 MT of seed rice for 2007. The ACC is the highest decision making body of the agricultural sector in Liberia, and comprises donor agencies, UN organizations as well as national and international NGOs and community-based farming groups.

During the planning process in 2005, the ACC estimated that 171,096 farm families were eligible beneficiaries of assistance for 2006. These beneficiaries included farmers who received partial assistance in 2005 and those who were not assisted, such as late arrival returnees, ex-combatants and host community residents who were eager to improve their lives through farming. Prior to the start of the planting season in April 2006, agencies realized that this number was far less than the actual number of beneficiaries thereby compelling the Government of Liberia and FAO to secure additional seed rice from neighboring countries to satisfy the demand. For the 2007 planting season, it is expected that more people will engage in rice cultivation and that yields would improve with good agronomic and management practices.

WFP Resumes School Feeding in Sinoe County

WFP has resumed food delivery to schools in Sinoe County, after a temporary halt due to poor road condition. The UNMIL Chinese Engineering Contingent has repaired some parts of the Zwedru to Greenville Road, which connects Grand Gedeh and Sinoe Counties, thereby making it easier for heavy vehicles to travel between the two counties. During the reporting period, WFP and partners distributed 1,917.7 MT of food to 291,783 students, refugees, IDPs and other beneficiaries in Liberia. Emergency School Feeding (85.4%) and Food Support for Local Initiatives (9.1%) accounted for the largest proportion of food distributed.

CCF Constructs Four Women Centers in Grand Cape Mount County

The international NGO, Christian Children Fund (CCF) is constructing four women centers in Grand Cape Mount County in order to provide an environment where women can discuss issues that affect them in their communities and also acquire training in life skills. These centers will serve as a useful medium of empowering women, especially widows and single mothers.


Nearly 1,400 Latrines To Be Constructed in Grand Gedeh County

The Water and Sanitation Working Group in Grand Gedeh County has earmarked 1,389 latrines for construction in Gbarzon, Konobo and Tchien Districts in 2007. The Group is also discussing plans for the maintenance of water and sanitation (WATSAN) facilities. UNMIL Military Observers will assist in providing information on WATSAN needs in communities that they visit.

Mass Well Chlorination Underway in Grand Cape Mount County

The Grand Cape Mount County Health Team is training 300 water and sanitation (WATSAN) committees for a mass well-chlorination campaign in the county. The campaign will help improve the quality of water from all water sources. Meanwhile, an assessment of all damaged and non-functioning wells fitted with hand pumps have started in the county. It is important to include training in repair and management of facilities in all WATSAN projects, in order for beneficiary communities to maintain these facilities after completion of projects.


Anti-Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Campaign Launched in Liberia

Activities marking the start of a nationwide campaign to eliminate Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) were held all over Liberia during the week. Some of the activities included street parades, in-door launch programs, cultural dances, etc. These activities will lead to a year of awareness in 2007 on the prevention of SEA in Liberia. The UN and the Government of Liberia are spearheading the anti-SEA campaign.

Courtesy of UNMIL Coordination Section (HCS)
November 4 - December 10, 2006

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The Art of Eating an Orange – Liberian Style

I believe the way Liberians eat oranges could be very revolutionary for the Western world. An orange is, potentially, one of the messiest fruits on the market today. I'm not quite sure the historical context of this practice but Liberians have found a way to eat an orange that keeps ones hands free of that sticky mess that we commonly associate with that task:

  1. Liberians peel an orange in the same manner a Westerner will peel a potato (an Irish potato as Liberians call them). They will peel the outer green or often orange coloured rind off leaving the orange with the inner rind still intact. This remaining rind is the key because this is what you hold onto when actually eating the orange.
  2. The Liberian you buy an orange from on the street usually then scalps the orange in order for you to get at the insides. Like a Native American practice of old, the Liberians have resurrected this exercise and used it as a humane method accessing the insides of this fruit.
  3. Once the top is off you then place your mouth over the gaping hole and squeeze the juices out. If you’re wanting to eat the actual insides of the orange you may be out of luck and might have to try another method. The juices are all we’re after anyways isn’t it?
  4. Throw the remaining remnants on the ground.

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