By: Augustine N. Myers – Grand Kru County located in the Southeast of Liberia once regarded as neglected, With population and land area of 58,000 and 2,298.78 sq.km respectively, is now a place of focus with emphasis in Poverty Reduction, Peace Promotion and Conflict Management.
With the passion to eliminate hunger, improve food security, build capacity , promote peace and manage conflict etc, an international Organization “WELTHUNGERHILFE” is maintaining operations in the County and up to date, has boasted of several developmental initiatives that have the propensity of giving the dwellers a hope again.
Despite the post conflict state of the county, Welthungerhilfe/BMZ 1028 with support from the Federal Ministry for economic cooperation and Development along with few others NGOs still maintains their perseverance and endurance thereby improving the livelihood of the people with oversight responsibility and support from the county local authority.
Over the years, there has been a better collaboration between the County local authority and welthungerhilfe/BMZ 1028 for all her many humanitarian support to the province of Grand Kru especially the four districts of intervention.
Welthungerhilfe/BMZ 1028, with support from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation & Development (BMZ) through a co-financed development project, has said the development needs and priorities of the County are many, but the top most priorities as stated by stakeholders are Roads, Health, Safe drinking water, Agriculture and the Promotion of peace and food security in its entire region.
It is against this backdrop that welthungerhilfe/BMZ 1028 (formally German Agro Action-GAA) is implementing a project under a code name ‘Poverty Reduction, Food Security, Peace Promotion and Conflict Management in Grand Kru County’.
The overall goal of the project, according to Mr. Martin E. M. Embola – Project Manager (BMZ 1028) is to contribute to the socio-economic Reconstruction and to the peaceful development of the province of Grand Kru with the implementation of the project in four (4) Districts in the County which include: Forpoh, Buah, Dorboh and Jloah.
Mr. Embola said presently there is a predictable and overwhelming harvest is expected before the end of the first phase of the project.
According to him, in Forkpoh, Buah and Jroah Districts, there are 20.0 hectares of Swamp rice with an estimated outcome of 82 metric tons, 12.4 hectares of Vegetables. 19.5 hectares of cassava and 5.7 hectares of plantain.
He further said, in jroah District, 50 female household heads have benefited from the construction of 50 fish smoking shelters as a way of improving income generation, all under result 1 of the project implementation.
MR. Embola named Result 2 as comprising of feeder roads and WASH activities, the connection of feeder road (Beatu 4.5km and Forpoh 12.5km) is improved while drinking water and sanitary infrastructure is developed. He said in Forpoh District, 12 Timber/log bridges were constructed with 9,000 beneficiaries along with 2 Concrete bridges of 15m to 22m.
On the other hand of the WASH front, MR. Embola disclosed that 185 improved ventilated family pit latrines and 24 hand pumps have been constructed in 3 districts in Grand Kru County, namely: Jraoh, Buah, and Forpoh districts.
He named Result 3 as doing with capacity building, awareness creation and income generation of Project, as up to date, awareness creation is being carried out in four Districts with mass distribution of condom couple with Trainings and Capacity building for disadvantaged women and girls.
MR. Embola further said the Reproductive Health Component of Conflict management/BMZ 1028 is gearing towards training of 1000 women and men of Reproductive age in 4 Districts in Grand Kru County (Forkpo, Bouah, Jloh and Jroah Districts).
Regarding skills training, BMZ-1028 is targeting 300 persons to benefit in various skills such as Tie and Dye, Baking, and Soap making. Vulnerable (Disadvantaged women and girls) are said to be of serious top priority.
He said as yet, 200 out of 300 persons in total have been trained 15 persons per community and 6 days training per group. The skills training are still ongoing and we are expected to cover all BMZ areas of intervention area in the four listed districts.
In Result 4, MR. Embola said the position of disadvantaged groups of the population is strengthened and methods of peaceful conflict resolution are widely adopted.
He pointed out that a minimum of 60 community youth has been recruited to be trained as peer educators in alternative dispute resolution (Mediation) from the four districts of intervention while the total of 15 schools with up to 39 teachers are recruited and trained for the promotion of literacy in Grand Kru County giving the high illiteracy rate in the county.
According to MR. Embola , teaching and learning materials has been distributed to 170 students over the period December, 2010 up to June, 2011. 1000 youth, women and men participated in workshops on women’s rights, violence against women and children and reproductive health.
Meanwhile, Welthungerhilfe/BMZ has spoken of the impact and challenges faced by 1028 in its implementation, with an expected bumper harvest during this farming season with an estimated 82 metric tons of rice seed, 487.5 metric tons of cassava and an increase in the nutritional status of the population of Grand Kru County through the cultivation and production of vegetable
MR. Embola further disclosed that 461 male and 420 small holder farmers benefitted from the distribution of assorted farming inputs (Regular hoes, cutlasses, shovels, rakes, rain booths and suit including planting materials (seeds).
According to him, considerable improvement and decrease in the number of cases of domestic violence and child abuses as the result of awareness creation measures through trainings, and that more Communities in the four Districts have resolved from drinking from creak water to that of save drinking water through the provided 24 hand pumps and the provision of 185 family pit latrines.
He said reported numbers of civil cases as the result of land dispute and illicit mining in the four districts were resolved through the mediation program, while one feeder road/farm to market 4.5 km has been constructed and completed in Jloah District with another 11.5km feeder road ongoing in Forpoh District.
MR. Embola also said project activities especially agricultural activities is now handed over to farmers in the community and the beneficiaries are now taking ownership as capacity building is ongoing in improved methods of agricultural.
Welthungerhilfe/BMZ 1028 is therefore calling on all its partners and donors to join her in the fight against food insecurity, illiteracy, poverty, etc, in Grand Kru County.
Grand Kru County is a land of vast forests irrigated by many rivers. Given the county high deposit of gold, timber and a large forest which is fertile for agriculture activities that is still largely untapped, indication shows that the county has the potential for much greater share of national economic activities. Nevertheless, about 60% of its inhabitants are said to be food insecure or highly vulnerable to food insecurity.