The Center for Media Studies and Peace Building or CEMESP, has expanded its Freedom of Information hub in Grand Cape County, western Liberia.
CEMESP Executive Director, Malcolm Joseph, said, the Grand Cape Mount is the newest to benefit from a Civil Society Organization- targeted FOI network as a high point implemented thru serialized training, with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, (NED).
According to him, participants drawn from some twenty CSOs met at the Sinje Youth center to learn useful skills in using the Liberia Freedom of Information Act 2010.
The Cape Mount training in Sinje was based on CEMESP’s specially designed manual for both CSOs and media.
Mr. Joseph noted that participants, men and women, young and old, most of whom confessed that they were learning about the FOI law for the first time, at the end of the day stated in their evaluation forms that the workshop content has empowered them to file sound requests to access pertinent information relative to service delivery.
The CEMESP boss said under this project, a similar training session and formation of the FOI network was earlier done in Bomi County late last year. Gbarpolu County is next in line of the training at the level of CSOs.
“In all three counties the project is calling for tangible request making efforts by these networks as a means of testing the disclosure obligations of public bodies and concession companies, CEMESP will follow up on these groups to be in position to determine the extent of success and challenges encountered in their application for specific information relative to service delivery” he said.
He said as the counties in the neighborhood of Monrovia, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Cape Mount have concession companies but the livelihood of the people there is dismally poor in terms of roads, health service delivery, education and youth employment. He also said it is assumed that this engagement will engender judicious utilization of county development funds allocated to various projects and programs that are not impacting lives.
After the CSOs the next layer of the training will be the hosting of journalists to exploit the Act in investigative and data driven journalism.
Mr. Joseph noted with concern failure of journalists to file FOI request in uncovering certain stories that require time and patient in obtaining irrefutable facts and figures.