Resource and you Broadening Citizens’ Participation in Resource Governance and Allocation

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When natural resources are extracted from communities and millions in revenues are given to the government, the communities affected expect better benefits and livelihoods. They expect better schools, healthcare facilities and infrastructure. Unfortunately, communities in Liberia from which natural resources have been taken continue to struggle. Many of these communities are outside of enclaves controlled by companies and linger in poverty. It is unfair that communities that once owned land now used by mining, forestry and agriculture companies remain in poverty. CENTAL wants communities to benefit and has worked with communities to understand concession contracts and brought community dwellers, public officials and the companies together to discuss improving livelihoods. We want a people-centered approach that allows citizens to have access to information and participate in the use of County Social Development Funds (CSDF). The CSDF is suppose to be the means by which funds would be directed to communities for development. Disappointingly, corrupt officials have undermined the impact of projects with poor implementation and limited accountability.

BONG - NIMBA - GRAND BASSA COUNTIES

CENTAL has engaged citizens in Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa counties as part of its "Resource and You" project. The project has been useful in getting citizens to understand aspect of concession agreements related to them. CENTAL has also facilitated forums in which communities, companies and public officials come together to discussion improvement in development outcomes. The community leaders, youths, women, elderly and physically challenged are represented in these forum.

CENTAL community engagement in Nimba - Bong - Grand Bassa counties

Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI) so important

Given its strategic role in promoting openness of revenue streams from the extractive sector, CENTAL met with the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI) and laid the groundwork for collaboration in mainstreaming LEITI activities in communities. LEITI was responsive to the partnership and the multi-stakeholder steering committee assigned one of its members to work with us. Minister Ekema Witherspoon of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was an awesome partner. He went with CENTAL to forums in cities, towns and villages across the three counties.

Lessons Learnt and Observations

  1. Dealing with companies can be difficult especially when they intend on evading meetings with communities in which they work.
  2. Traveling to communities connected by bad roads during rainy season can be particularly risky to the lives of staff.
  3. Communities have high expectations from projects and are concern about the impact of projects. There are too many projects without much impact.
  4. County level officials do not want to attend public functions because they do not have funds to cover travel cost. Some officials argued that limited public resources available to them do not provide for extra attendance of CSO related activities.
  5. Communities are prepared to listen when meetings are brokered by trusted and neutral CSO like CENTAL. Companies and public officials are also prepared to attend.

Observations

  1. Air of uneasiness existing in the affected communities of Grand Bassa, Bong and Nimba resulting from the perceived wrong treatment by ArcelorMittal. Communities are alleging that the company enjoys the support of the Government and does not feel obligated to the local population, a concern stressed repeatedly at forums and focus group discussions.
  2. The companies are slow to respond to environmental and social problems that affect communities. Most families in affected communities depend on agriculture to support their livelihood and problems arising - for example poisoning of water sources need urgent redress. Communities have threaten disruption to companies operations if some of these issues are not addressed.
  3. There are lots of suspicion and misinformation among the local communities. Continual engagement with the people by county authorities and companies can be a useful way to enhance local participation and information sharing.

violence is possible if the communities concerns are not dealT with.

Violent demonstration by citizens of Zolowee and surrounding communities close to the ArcelorMittal Yekepa mining site.

Join CENTAL as we work to improve the livelihood of people in communities that are faced with the exploitation of their natural resources.

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CENTAL Liberia
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