President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has alarmed here that Monrovia continues to run the risk of more flooding due to climate change coupled with Liberians’ old habits of building on wet lands and over drainages and risking people’s health.
“And the reality is that the sea is rising as a result of climate change – the more the sea rises, we continue to run the risk of more flooding. And our old habits of building in wet lands, of being able to put … in channels and drainage that get cloaked during the rainy seasons that come back to harm us… it puts us at risk health-wise, we and our children,” she said.
Liberia’s capital city Monrovia and other cities across the 15 counties face major developmental challenges, particularly the capital where zoning is largely lacking and slum communities suffer flooding and health issues.
Officially launching the National Urban Forum Wednesday, June 24 at the Monrovia City Hall, President SIrleaf said the situation was “a major challenge for us in Monrovia.”
However, she was quick to point out that she would take up the leadership role to face the challenge which involves the de-congestion of the capital city and that city mayors she has mandated to work together and transform their various cities across the 15 counties here.
The President urged residents of Monrovia to be able to take responsibility for decisions they make, telling them that if they decide to live in Monrovia, they are equally expected to keep their environment clean.
“Yourself need to work with your local government authority, whether it is your mayor or commissioner or the superintendent. We expect you to go to PTA meetings, to encourage your children to do better… you have to do your part,” she said.
President Sirleaf says people have to be there [to manage service delivery] as government encourages the creation of conditions at the county level in the de-concentration platform so that others would not feel compel living only in Monrovia once they know they can go to Buchanan, Zwedru or Tubmanburg and get whatever service they need.
“But we also know that it’s freedom; you have a right to live where you want to live. That’s part of the democratic tendencies. So we have to balance this so we see how we encourage you to make that move by providing services that you find attractive to your livelihood – housing, electricity, education, health…” she said.
President Sirleaf assured the local authorities of government support as they embark on formulation of policies that will seek to transform cities here.
Earlier, Cities Alliance Senior Policy Advisor Madam Clare Short urged authorities here to provide sanitation services, education and jobs to sustain development and reduce poverty in Liberia.
She said the people of Liberia have suffered greatly over the years and they deserved better live opportunities, having earlier said the challenge to transition to a predominantly urbanized population was not unique to Liberia because other countries face similar challenge.
The UN’s Under-Secretary General and Executive Director for UN-Habitat Dr. Joan Clos also made remarks at the National Urban Forum launch on Wednesday.
Liberia’s urban population in 2008 comprised 47 percent of the total population of 3.5m with an annual urban population growth of approximately 4m.
Liberia’s Internal Affairs Minister Mr. Morris Dukuly and local authorities were at the commencement of the two –day forum that is expected to climax Thursday at the Monrovia City Hall. By Winston W. Parley – Edited by Othello B. Garblah