Monrovia — At least forty-five (39 males & 6 females) mentees under the Liberia Decentralization Support Programme (LDSP) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) have assumed responsibilities as Mentors in County Service Centers across Liberia.
With support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Government of Sweden, USAID and other partners, five (5) International United Nations Volunteers (IUNVs) have been serving as mentors on a 5-year decentralization project.
The 45 mentees, three persons per county, were mentored in different aspects of local government administration and management.
Speaking recently at the follow-up training for mentees and government liaison officers in Grand Bassa County, UNDP Deputy Country Director for Programmes, Cleophas Torori said the event was also intended to witness the handover and takeover process of the program by the mentees through the government of Liberia.
"Handing over from the International UNVs to the mentees whom they have been working with closely over the years. It's also intended to understand how the mentorship program has worked over the last years and, more importantly, to get a sense of the readiness and preparedness of the mentees to take over the responsibilities of mentoring under the decentralization programme," said Mr. Torori.
He pledged UNDP continued support to the government and people of Liberia.
For his part, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Research and Planning, Olayee Collins thanked UNDP and other partners for the overwhelming support they continue to provide the Ministry and the Government in its decentralization drive.
Minister Collins said taking governance and services to the people remains the 'heartbeat' of the Pro-Poor Government led by Amb. George M. Weah and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
The mentorship program was intended to fill the gaps and serve as a framework for providing technical assistance to train and provide competency skills for young professionals in local government in support of Liberia's decentralization program.
The Government's decentralization agenda, works through a 5-year project (2013-2017 Liberia Decentralization Support Programme (LDSP) is) that supports the decentralization of political, administrative, and fiscal governance in Liberia.
Through this project, UNDP is also advocating the passage of the Local Government Act (LGA) which has been passed by the House Representatives awaiting concurrence by the Senate.
The 5 International UNVs, covering 3 counties each, have provided technical assistance to County Service Centers and offices of the various Superintendents.
The mentees lauded UNDP and partners for the opportunity afforded them to serve in such capacity and to assume the responsibilities of mentorship
Grand Cape Mount County Service Center Coordinator Martu Kollie, however mentioned that there was a serious need for more training. She's one of the six female mentees under the programme.
"We want to thank our mentors who have helped us in building our capacities to reach this point of taking leadership roles today. But, we want to also state that there is need for the LDSP and partners to continue providing more support to us. We need more trainings that will enable us be effective and efficient," Martu said.
Like Martu, other mentees also expressed concern for additional support and training opportunities to effectively discharge their duties.
Meanwhile, the mentees have organized themselves into a group called, the "County Service Centers' Coordinators Council (CSCCC).
The Council brings together 15 CSC Coordinators from across the Country to adequately and collectively manage information on development and services being offered at different CSCs for the benefit of the public.
Sidiki Quisia, Director of Regional and Sectoral Planning and UN Focal Point at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) made presentation on the Pro- Poor policy on behalf of Minister Benedict Kolubah, Assistant Minister for Planning at MFDP and the role of mentees in participatory development planning.
Other presentations included: The Local Government Act- implications on county administration, organizational structures and reporting mechanisms; sharing experiences from achievements, success factors, challenges, lessons learnt and way forward; the role of UNDP in the mentoring program among others.