(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Problem of emergency to development aid highlighted in UN appeal

[Liberia] <Making a living as a street vendor [07/15/2006]
Ansu Konneh/IRIN

Donor and aid agency management of the transition from emergency to relief programming is being questioned by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) which has launched a US$128 million appeal to cover the needs of Liberians who it says are being under-supported while donors shift to longer-term programming.

“Resources are needed to ensure that the critical humanitarian gaps and needs of highly vulnerable communities during this important transitional period are addressed,” the OCHA appeal, released on 10 March, states.

The report presents 19 “high-priority projects” in the health, food security, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sectors which it says if funded would benefit more than 2 million Liberians – around two-thirds of the total population - with a “particular focus on the least-served communities in the southeast of the country”.

Although international humanitarian organisations provided many basic services during and after a devastating civil war in the country from 1990 until 2003, and the UN maintains a large peacekeeping mission there, Liberia still counts among the poorest and most unstable countries in the world.

Liberia was ranked as the ninth most fragile country in the world in a survey of state fragility compiled by the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C. released in February 2008. It was rated as the lowest of any country in West Africa. Liberia is not ranked in the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index.

According to OCHA, many of the international aid agencies which were providing basic services have closed operations or are scaling back because of reduced funding. The Government has so far not formulated a Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) to prioritise development efforts.

“As is often the case in transitional situations, resource mobilisation for development is subject to delays, and adequate funding for the PRS and UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) will take time to come on line,” the OCHA report said.

“The situation in Liberia is a reminder that the international community has yet to come to grips with the humanitarian-to-development gap,” the OCHA report noted. “It would indeed be troubling were Liberians to be worse off now with peace than they were when humanitarian aid was reaching them in the immediate post-conflict period.”

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