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Locally owned community associations help Liberians survive civil war

Page history last edited by Rosemary 9 years, 11 months ago


Locally-owned community associations help Liberians survive civil war

Locally-owned and -controlled clan-and community-based development associations played a key role in helping people in Liberia survive years of devastating civil war by serving as social safety nets, resolving conflicts, and providing and maintaining social and physical infrastructure development independently of their state.

Seletorwaa was created in the early 1980s by members of the Mehnsonnoh clan living in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, in response to the military takeover and its consequences on Nimba County. Over the years, it has built a clinic in Guotowin and given scholarships to the clan young people to study at technical schools and institutions of higher learning in Liberia.

Seletorwaa is part of Selezoway, the Yarwin-Mehnsonnoh District development association, which has built and maintained roads, market sheds, community halls and other public facilities within the district. Its women's clubs help the sick and disabled, and often organized increased food production to ensure food security. Male clan members maintain the roads.

The clan development associations are self-reliant, supported by their members through labour quotas and taxation of individual production and by clan members living in Monrovia and abroad. Members of various Nimba county clan-based associations living in the US have organized the United Nimba Citizens Council of North America and are helping to rehabilitate and equip schools and clinics in Nimba County.

The clan-based development associations also can access resources provided by the United Nations and European Union, and international and local non-governmental organizations, to help build their own capacity and to carry out development projects including provision of agricultural tools to families, creation of seed multiplication facilities, and provision of extension services to community farming groups.

In urban and semi-urban areas, community-based organizations (CBOs) such as the Slipway Community Association and the Soniwein Development Association in Monrovia have built latrines and repaired roadways. Outside Monrovia, community-based organizations are active in roadwork and sanitation projects, construction of irrigation canals, market sheds, schools and bridges and sinking community wells. Many such initiatives are supported by intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

Summarized from: Sawyer, Amos (2004). Social capital, survival strategies and their potential for post-conflict governance in Liberia. EDGI/UNU-WIDER Research Paper No. 2005/15, presented at a conference on Unlocking Human Potential: Linking the Informal and Formal Sectors, held Sept. 17-18, 2004, in Helsinki, Finland, and cohosted by the Expert Group on Development Issues and the United Nations University/World Institute for Development Economics Research. More research on social capital in Africa can be found at the Social Capital Gateway, a site edited by Fabio Sabatini, PhD student in Economics at the University of Rome "La Sapienza".


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