LIBERIA TO RAISE UP THE COUNTRY’S POOREST WITH $100 IN CASH

Thousands of Liberia’s poorest citizens will be getting an early Christmas gift of $100 this year as part of a five year project which the government hopes will shrink chronic poverty and eliminate hunger.

Authorities at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection say they have started to disburse “social cash” to the extremely poor and food insecure citizens in two counties. The money comes from the nation’s Social Safety Nets Project funded by the U.N. Development Program.

“Over 3,000 households will be given cash to help them secure the needed support for their families,” said Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tar, speaking at a news conference in Monrovia.

“This cash transfer is a major achievement under the Pro-poor Agenda, which says power to the people and sub-chapter investing in social protection.”

The Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) underscores the importance of “direct cash transfer” outside centralized national poverty reduction programs, she said, adding: “This milestone also captures the very essence of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under pillar one and two that says no poverty and zero hunger.”

The five-year (2019-2023) Agenda, according to Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs Samora Wolokollie, is about strengthening people’s capacity to thrive and seeks to draw all Liberians at home and abroad into the national development process.

The two counties so far in the program are Grand Kru and Maryland.

However, not all Liberians are on board with the plan. Robert Quiminee, an activist and an author, in an article on Liberia’s Poverty Recovery Strategies, fears the program lacks the input of poor people in the policy process.

He mentioned a widely-seen photo of President George Weah in which he and his wife are eating with bare fingers but with no plan to transform lives. “Pro-poor is not about identity, it’s about transformation,” Quiminee said.

A. Witherspoon, writing in the Liberian Observer, asked rhetorically: “Where does this cash transfer program fit into the overall development plan? These ad hoc initiatives will not help our people. These piecemeal ventures are what is deepening the (poverty) situation in the country.”

Meanwhile, the first All Liberian Diaspora Conference is set for December 6-7 at the St. Andrews Ukrainian Orthodox Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.