Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) has released a new report, focusing on accountability and transparency or lack of thereof, among companies exploiting Liberia’s natural resources, particularly in rural communities.
The report is titled TIMB or “This Is My Back Yard” and can be accessed online. SDI says the idea is to address issues surrounding government resources that are coming from the natural resources of Liberia.
speaking Wednesday, 16 November at Mamba Point Hotel in Monrovia during launch of the report, program leader Mr. James G. Otto said the story of Liberia needs to be told, stressing, “We need to document those stories which will be used for the public, so we are trying to use TIMBY as an online Act that will record videos on different stories about the country.”
“Imagine if hundred bags of cement were left at the waterside by people to carry to other counties, and it got lost due to mismanagement, somebody needs to tell that story; the Liberian people need to know what happen to the rest of the cement that got missing; this is what this online report is all about – for citizens to tell their own story in every part of the country through this online Act.”
He said if money were given to construct a bridge for the benefit of citizens in a particular community, story about that project should be told, adding,“If they tell you that this bridge cost huge amount that also need to be told.This TIMBY online Act will enable citizens tell the real story of any project or work that is been done in their districts or counties.”
The program leader told media institutions that since the establishment of the Sustainable Development Institute in 2004, the institution has been working with various organizations on different initiatives.
One of the things we are doing is to provide evidence to any information that we put out, because anytime we accuse a company, their strong argument will be on document, and evidence – that what we are trying to do.We want to hold them on issue of transparency and accountability.”
Mr.Otto said Wednesday’s launch sends out two important messages:We care inviting lot of different actors, the Media, Civil Society Organization, the young people, and the various women organizations informing that this is an online application that you can used to document issues of accountability, though not every information will be sent to the public, but they will be well documented and put on the platform, and there is a process that will ensure all pieces of information are verified enough to convince the public.
He said SDI has been releasing various reports on natural resources including ‘keeping the promise’ among others, but they are geared towards helping government tackle issues of transparency and accountability.
The works are aimed at transforming decision-making processes of natural resource management so the benefits are shared equally. The objective is also to create space for the participation of local communities in decision making processes on natural resources, according to SDI.
“We work to support and enhance their contributions to those processes and strengthen mechanisms that will ensure that communities receive a fair share of the benefits derived from natural resource exploitation”, Otto added.
He said the work is underpinned by three core values and guiding principles which shape the institution’s rights based approach and analysis of natural resource management. “We strive to work with communities in an empowering way to facilitate their meaningful participation in decisions about natural resources which affect their wellbeing, their livelihoods and their way of life.”
“ Our values and principles are that the rights of people and communities to participate in decisions making processes should be respected at all times; that people and communities should have opportunities to pursue economic, social, cultural and political wellbeing without hindrance by the state; and that the use of natural resources should reflect the wellbeing of future generations”, he concluded.