Complementary study to the appraisal of the project for the promotion and socio-economic integration in rural areas of Liberia
Agroforestry, Project management
In the last four decades, Liberia has been affected by several shocks that impacted its economy and human development. The country suffered two devastating civil wars (1989 – 1997 and 1999 – 2003) followed by a deadly Ebola outbreak (2014 – 2015). Despite a period marked by substantial encouraging growth between 2015 and 2020, Liberia remains in the low human development category. Agriculture represents the economic backbone of Liberia, ensuring livelihoods, food security but also playing a key role in tax revenues through exports. Despite an abundance of arable land and suitable climate, the sector is only at a fraction of its potential.
The country was already in a challenging domestic environment when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. While the immediate impact of COVID-19 lockdown measures was felt more acutely in urban areas, rural areas remain at risk, especially if the economic downturn remains protracted. Indeed, rural areas host the majority of the extreme poor households and food insecurity is endemic, rendering rural populations highly vulnerable to shocks.
While it is difficult to address the chronic bottlenecks of the agricultural sector (e.g., lack of infrastructure or inadequate policies), the need to enhance sustainable crop production and productivity coupled with improved access to markets are key priorities to ensure sustained rural livelihoods. Pro-poor and gender sensitive approaches to national agricultural value chains could support the production of sectorial information while empowering the most vulnerable.
The feasibility study supported AFD's appraisal mandate by defining the content, budget and the methods of implementation of the rural component of the REALISE project currently implemented by the World Bank. The study ended up proposing a detailed project framework aiming to facilitate access to income earning opportunities in the rural areas, in a gender inclusive manner, targeting the vulnerable, in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The four-year project will be implemented following three components:
- Component 1: To provide vulnerable youth in rural areas with immediate consumption smoothing support through Community Livelihoods and Agriculture Support (CLAS).
- Component 2: To support cooperatives / farmers groups in establishing business plans while promoting sustainable agricultural practices and generating technical and sectorial information.
- Component 3: To ensure the project implementation, coordination, and Monitoring Evaluation Accountability Learning (MEAL).