Youth in Technology and Arts Network (YOTAN) has launched a one year project in Lofa County, funded by National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The project is title "Fostering the involvement of citizens in governance reform in rural Liberia. The Founder and Executive Director of YOTAN Mr. Donnish Pewee says in a press statement issued Wednesday, 22 November that the project is built on four recommendations which were made by the Governance Commission (GC).
Mr. Pewee names the four recommendations as intensive civic education, strengthening citizenship, reconciliation, and preparing citizens for participatory democratic processes that promote decentralization and good governance in Liberia. Mr. Pewee who heads the team to four districts in Lofa County says the goal of the project is to promote and strengthen the contribution of citizens in the process of decentralizing governance in Liberia.
He also says YOTAN is addressing issues which are closely connected with objectives -2, -4, and -5 of the draft Local Government Act that seek to ‘guarantee democratic participation and control of decision-making by the citizenry through the establishment of democratic and political administrative structures in local governance.
He stresses that providing democratic elections for local government officials is significant to sustaining the gains already made in the country with respect to democracy and governance. According to the YOTAN Executive Director, the project will prepare citizens in responding to governance reform process geared toward strengthening and promoting a devolved and decentralized system of government in Liberia.
He notes that NED and YOTAN support a greater and meaningful participation of all citizens in the national and local decision-making processes so that the development agenda of the community, district, county and country can be appreciated by all. “The more citizens feel increasingly familiarized with all aspects of governance and nation building, the better it is for the country in terms of peace and stability which strengthens the rule of law and promotes democracy,” he says.
Under the project, he explains that YOTAN will apply community organizing and stakeholder engagement to maximize the impact of the project on the target beneficiaries, adding that the organization will also use capacity building and civic education to promote inclusive and accountable practices in local government decision making in the county.
He narrates that those approaches will drive positive interaction between policymakers and implementers and the citizenry as everyone feel a part of decision making in the county. Mr. Pewee says as part of the project, YOTAN team recently ended a one week community town hall meeting in Lofa County to discuss the draft Local Governance Act, focusing the decentralization of governance in the county, and constitutional provisions on the duties and functions of elected public officials and identifying the role of the electorates (citizens) in ensuring that elected officials work to promote decentralization in the county.
By Lewis S. Teh