Notes from the Field: Liberian communities taking development into their own hands
In late March 2021, Advocates for Community Alternatives (ACA) embarked on a field mission to rural Liberia to assess its programs, support partners, and build new collaborations. The findings were very encouraging: the partner communities are embracing community-driven development in a very remarkable way and are joyfully taking the initiative to remake their communities according to their own vision.
These field visits took place between March 20th and 31st, 2021 in Lofa county: a region in Liberia well known for producing rice. Focus was laid on communities which were undergoing the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP) activities. The primary purpose of the visit was to assess the performance of the communities on the overall FCAP projects in the Wologizi Mountain communities, provide support and guidance to implementing partners on how to maintain good FCAP practices and build effective working relationships with them. This visit provided ACA with a unique opportunity to know the real impacts of the projects and the challenges therein.
The ACA team embarked on a capability building training for implementing partners on Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (M&EL) as well as on the use of Microsoft Excel. The desire to put in place systems that guarantee efficiency and improve the skills of participants necessitated these training sessions. At the end of the sessions with the implementing partners, a debriefing session was held to discuss the challenges that were encountered and propose solutions on how to tackle them.
ACA through Village Development Fund (VDF) and Green Advocates International (GAI) support four communities Karzah, Kpademai, Wobeyimeh and Betibah in Wologizi mountain in Lofa County. Although all the communities are making encouraging efforts to improve their communities through the FCAP process, it is worth sharing that, “Wobeyimeh”, one of the smallest communities that developed its vision to be a community with modern houses, has proven that words are powerful when supported with actions. It was observed that the community had built a community center with a sitting capacity of about 400 people which serves as a meeting place for everyone during community decision-making. It is also worth mentioning that Wobeyimeh, has gone further to build cement houses with painted and glass windows as a fulfilment of their vision. The community’s next objective is to build a rice factory which will aid in the processing of the harvested rice through the FCAP Microgrant.
The team then moved on to Margibi County. Popularly known for its rubber plantation, Margibi has the communities of Dokai, Jorkporlorsue, Bloume and Kolleh-Dapolo under its jurisdiction. The main objective for this visit was to assist in strengthening women to become economically independent and to be empowered on how to resist sexual violence. For this reason, ACA has advanced plans and has started carrying out baseline community assessment together with community leaders.