The Mano River Union (MRU) and the United Nations Development Programme-UNDP joint project has conducted a high level stakeholder engagement along the Liberia-Sierra Leone border.
The Exercise was a follow-up assessment mission to the two “Class A” borders in Jendema, Bo Waterside.
The project focuses on areas of cooperation to enhance the effectiveness of their development efforts in the four countries.
It also aims to strengthen regional integration that seeks to advance peace and security and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Member States.
During the engagement, UNDP Representatives from Liberia and Sierra Leone, government and local officials including immigration authorities, border officials, paramount chiefs, as well as women leadership from cross border trade, discussed issues of health, security and the economy in the mist of #Covid19.
The women spoke of the devastating blow and strangulation of their economic growth and stability posed by the outbreak of the pandemic which has affected a once booming venture of trade.
Many of them no longer have the means to do their business with the closure of the borders. The women stressed that all their capital has been sucked up due to #Covid19.
According to them, in their desperation to fend for their families, some of their members use of any of the over 40 illegal crossings, just to make ends meet. In some instances, this leads to fatality.
“Our women who are mostly single parents, are dying because they are taking huge risks for their children and families to survive,” says BinduSwarary.
The women traders, community members and even government authorities at ports of entry, collectively emphasized the need to open borders but with safety, health and security measures put in place for all users and to strengthen trade in a secured environment.
The porosity of the borders is a matter of interest especially when the virus is transmitted from human to human. Thus, the need for a regional response cannot be overemphasized.
On two separate occasions, the MRU/UNDP Project has turned over materials and supplies to the Government of Liberia through the National Response Coordinator of the Executive Committee on Coronavirus (ECOC).
This is in recognition of the need to support health systems, border area awareness and sensitization to enhance prevention and response.
At the same time, the response is to help improve cross border gender awareness surveillance and cooperation between MRU countries.
The materials were intended for four counties (Nimba, Grand Cape Mount, Maryland and Lofa) covering a total of 22 targeted border communities.
The MRU/UNDP project delegation was led by the Head of MRU Secretariat Medina Wisseh, the Resident Representatives of Liberia and Sierra Leone Pa LamiinBeyai and Sam Doe, as well as the Internal Affairs Minister of Sierra Leone, David Panda Noah among others.
Additional toiletries and nose masks were turned over by the project at the end of the consultation.