Endowed with vast and varied natural resources, a large biodiversity, lush vegetation and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia has enormous potential in mining and ecotourism, as well as food and cash crop production. But decades of economic plunder and social disinvestments, amplified by two civil wars, eroded human capital, laid waste to social infrastructure and ravaged productive assets.
War ended in August 2003 with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, followed by deployment of a 15,000-strong UN peacekeeping force, UNMIL. Under the aegis of UNMIL and the broader international community, general and presidential elections were held late 2005. Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected President and Liberia returned to democratic rule. The country now enjoys relative political stability and improved security due to the government’s efforts and international political, financial and military support which have strengthened civil authority throughout the country and enabled a gradual recovery of the economy.
However, the social, economic, infrastructural, and human costs of the civil war still linger more than half a decade after the war’s end. The country remains one of the poorest in the world, ranked among the bottom five countries (176 out of 179) on the 2008 UNDP Human Development Index. Per capita GDP was US$132 in 2008 (IMF Country Report No. 08/108, March 2008), and 64 percent of Liberia’s 3.5 million people live below the poverty line (Core Welfare Indicator Questionnaire, 2007).
The government launched a three-year Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) in June 2008 aimed to expand peace and security, revitalize the economy, strengthen governance and the rule of law, rehabilitate infrastructure and deliver basic social services. The government and international partners are investing tremendous efforts and resources to achieve the aims of the PRS, considered critical in setting Liberia on an irreversible course toward recovery and development.
WFP is working to connect farmers in Liberia to markets through the Purchase for Progress initiative. Learn more
WFP uses food support to build the human capital of communities through school meals and to rebuild the livelihoods of rural families by helping smallholder farmers to rehabilitate agricultural assets with a focus on rice production. A 2008 external evaluation of WFP activities found that school meals was an important factor in revitalizing the education system in rural areas and encouraging the return and resettlement of displaced populations.
WFP also provides food assistance to protect the nutritional and health status of mothers and children at risk of malnutrition, TB patients and People Living with HIV.
Under the new protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO) due to start in September 2009, WFP activities will include lean season safety net distributions to mitigate the impact of high food prices on vulnerable rural households in the most food insecure counties during the hunger period between harvests.
WFP is strengthening the capacities of government and communities for their increased ownership and participation in the management of WFP programmes through the school meals and food security and nutrition monitoring programmes.
WFP is helping to provide small-scale farmers access to reliable markets at fair price, while improving the capacity of farmer cooperatives in agro-processing and marketing, and in the development of procurement processes. This effort to strengthen the institutional, productive and competitive potentials of farmers and connect them to markets is being implemented through the Purchase for Progress initiative.