A two-day capacity building workshop designed to increase public awareness on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at district level ended on Tuesday, December 13, in the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, with a call for politicians to refrain from interfering with the implementation of local development projects across the country.
The two-day exercise, facilitated by representatives of the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP), headed by Mr. Robert Dorlaie, was organized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in collaboration with the Liberia Decentralization and Local Development Programmes and the MDGs’ Campaign Coordination.
Participants were drawn from across Rivercess and Grand Bassa County. They were informed about the eight goals of the MDG with emphasis on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, including the attainment of primary education, promotion of gender equity, reduction of child mortality and better health delivery system, among others.
At the close of the exercise, participants called for women empowerment and participation in development activities and education for all children across Liberia. The participants also warned of project failure due to political interfering, saying development activities and programs in the leeward counties have failed due to undue interfering of politicians in the decision-making process for project implementation by the locales.
According to them, many politicians will get themselves involve with community-based project implementation for political favors, and by giving the impressing that these projects were made possible by them.
The rural dwellers pledged to take the message of the MDGs into their various communities by creating awareness to encourage massive participation of citizens into community development activities, such as digging wells, construction of hand pumps or primary schools including health posts in far away villages.
According to facilitators, the exercise was also intended to increase attention for the achievement of the MDGs as the last five years towards 2015 deadline approaches, and that this workshop is an initial effort by the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) and the Liberia Government to create awareness about the eight goals of the MDG.
The facilitators also told the rural dwellers that while national efforts are crucial, there is a growing attention being paid to the MDGs and the role of local governments and communities, including citizens and leaders to ensure that MDGs are accelerated through plans and activities for the benefits of the locales.
The UNDP facilitators also called for localizing the MDGs to address disparities and gross marginalization at the sub-national level, and to provide integrated framework for development through inter-relationships between the goals to link global, national, counties and districts and to provide framework for accountability through the setting of targets and indicators to support marginalized groups in democratic governance and participatory decision-making processes.
The exercise, according to the facilitators, was proposed to further help build citizens’ capacity around local MDGs assessment, programs planning and monitoring for translation into quick practical actions to accelerate the process towards local level MDG targets.
The workshop brought together twenty five participants including members of local civil society organizations, Development Superintendents, County Development Officers, District Commissioners, Chiefs, youth and observer groups. The exercise was also attended by the Civil Affairs Coordinator of UNMIL in Grand Bassa, Mr. Oliver Bar’kadi and the Development Superintendent of Grand Bassa and Rivercess Counties respectively.