Monrovia — The United Nations Habitat (UN-Habitat), Cities Alliance, in partnership with the Government of Liberia, through the Department of Urban Affairs at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, has validated a National Urban Policy Diagnosis Note for Liberia.
The stakeholders in partnership with the Government of Liberia, is developing a participatory National Urban Policy (NUP) to supports its national Vision to move Liberia to middle-income status by 2030.
The on-going policy development document is part of a broader endeavour to support poverty reduction through integrating urbanisation into national development policies and developing sustainable and resilient Liberian cities.
On Thursday, October 22, 2020, a group of urban stakeholders, Government representatives from various ministries and agencies, Mayors and Commissioners from across the country gathered at the Monrovia City Corporation for a One-day Validation Workshop.
The National Urban Policy development process began with the feasibility phase and is currently at the diagnostic phase. The diagnostic phase seeks to analyse issues identified at the feasibility phase with in-depth analysis; to better inform the subsequent formulation, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation phases of the policy.
The one-day validation workshop which was attended by over 130 delegates from different national and local Government institutions captured presentations, interactive sessions, sharing of experiences, Validation of the Diagnosis Note and a pre and post-engagement survey.
Accordingly, the workshop was co-organized by UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance and the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Urban Affairs Department.
The one-day event was held under the theme: "We are to support democratic, effective and efficient local governance and spearhead the implementation of the decentralization process, promote participatory decision making process, strengthen basic social services delivery, maintain peace harmony and social cohesion in the country."
Mrs. Bindu Brewer, UN-Habitat's Senior National Urban Policy Consultant, provided an overview of the workshop and welcomed participants.
Delivering the Keynote address, Deputy Minister of Urban Affairs at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Chairperson of the Liberia Country Programme (LCP), Paulita C.C Wea, thanked the participants for being a part of the process and showing support for the validation of the diagnosis note.
Deputy Internal Affairs Minister further stressed the need for cities and towns to be managed in a clean, safe and green way. Therefore, she noted that it is important to implement the Local Government Act and the formulate a National Urban Policy.
Deputy Minister Wie then acknowledged the importance of developing a National Urban Policy due to the rapid growth in urban population growth as in the Liberian context: -growing population in cities and towns.
Accordingly, she also emphasized the importance of the NUP due to Liberia's growing urban population as a result of high fertility rate and migration which continue to create a range of urban challenges and opportunities.
Deputy Minister Wie made Monrovia an example, stressing that he city have exceeded it originally designed proposed population density, which is clearly challenging its city management.
She encouraged participants to work for the best interest of Liberia and support the National Urban Policy process, in order to create a tool that will help manage urban challenges and make best use of the opportunities created due to urbanization.
Representing Cities Alliance at the workshop Francisco Juarez Lopez, Cities Alliance Country Manager, welcomed the participants to the workshop on behalf of Cities Alliance pledged his organization's support and promise to ensure that the process was participatory and independents in order to ensure and strengthen national participation across the country.
According to him, by bringing together participant from various institutions across the country clearly illustrates the participatory nature of the process. He then thanked the participants for being part of the process and encouraged them to give their input and hopefully conclude with the validation of the diagnosis note.
Also speaking, Maryland County Senator and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs, Gbleh-bo Brown, who also graced the event, expressed his gratitude to UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance and the Deputy Minister for Urban Affairs for invitation. Senator Brown highlighted the usefulness of the NUP, as well as the validation workshop and stating that it is all about strengthen participation in the governance system of the country.
He then encouraged UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to develop the NUP and move to the implementation of the policy.
He expresses the need to implement the new Local Government Act, and reminded participants that three years ago the, the President of Liberia signed the Local Government Act into law, and there are sections within the act devoted entirely to cities and their defined criteria, but to date, the Government of Liberia is yet to move into implementation two years after signing the Act.
Hence, he encouraged the Minister to create awareness and sensitization of the Act which will in the long-term support the NUP development and implementation.
Senator Brown pledged the support and cooperation of the Liberian Senate Committee on Governance and Internal Affairs to the process.
Also in remarks, the Director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Henry Williams, said: "The Notes we are here to validate today is a very important instrument to the NUP development."
He recalled various factors that continue to contribute to urban challenges to include capacity gap that the country faces. Williams noted that urban governance is a key tool for the success of the NUP. He thanked UN-Habitat and Cities Alliance for incorporating and addressing all urban issues in the NUP process.
Also, Deputy Minister for Administration, Joseph Todd, of the Ministry of Public Works, lauded the support from UN-habitat and Cities Alliance to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
He pledged the Ministry of Public Works support to the UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance and the Ministry of Internal Affairs in achieving the goals and objectives of the National Urban Policy for Liberia.
"The National Urban Policy as a tool, will not only help in reducing urban and territorial disparity, but will also help promote institutional collaboration and policy coherence toward the achievement of Liberia Vision 2030," Todd said.
He then encouraged Mayors, Commissioners and other Urban stakeholders from across the country to take ownership of the National Urban Policy.
For his part, the Commissioner of the Governance Commission, George Howe, acknowledged the importance of the validation of the diagnosis Note, and further emphasized the collaborations that have existed between the Governance Commission and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Howe reminded the audience and international partners that urbanization comes with opportunities and challenges, and the opportunities must be utilized and challenges confronted through constant engagements with the relevant stakeholders as was demonstrated during the Diagnosis Phase of the NUP development process.
He reaffirmed the support of the Governance Commission to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and its partners UN-Habitat and Cities Alliance in developing a National Urban Policy for Liberia.
Making remarks also John Kebari Omwamba, Urban Policy and Project Management Officer at UN-Habitat Head office in Nairobi, who spoke on behalf of Dr. Remy Sietchiping, Head, Policy, Legislation and Governance Section, Urban Practices Branch said UN-Habitat is pleased to be co-hosting the Liberian NUP Diagnosis Note Validation Workshop with Cities Alliance and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
According to him, the importance of the workshop was aimed at adopting recommendation of the diagnosis phase of the National Urban Policy development process.
He congratulated UN-Habitat and all other stakeholders that have actively been part of the process of NUP development for Liberia since 2014.
The necessity of developing a National Urban Policy in Liberia to assess the current urban capacity and broadly to work to fill the demand and supply gaps in the foreseeable future due to urban population growth has been recognized as an urgent request.