Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Intra-Africa travel and a couple interesting articles

Intra-Africa Travel

I've had a relaxing week in Ghana with family and friends, and I leave for Liberia on Saturday. This is my first trip to another African country by air, and I've been stunned at ticket prices! A 2-hour flight from Accra to Monrovia on Kenya Airways - USD570!!

Two Interesting Articles 

The first article is an AllAfrica interview with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: http://allafrica.com/stories/201005240600.html  Below is a portion of the interview:

AA:"How do you think development can best be achieved?"
President Sirleaf: "The best way to make development work is to ensure that the priorities are established by the people themselves. This is why our poverty reduction strategy came out of a rigorous process of consultation and participation by people across the country."

AA: "Did your efforts to involve people across the country in the poverty reduction strategy result in a buy-in from the Liberian people?"
President Sirleaf: "A definite buy-in. For the first time, people from the villages could say they sat in meetings and were asked "what do you think you want your government to do?" Three priorities came out quite clearly - roads, education and health."

AA: "And that influenced your strategy?"
President Sirleaf: "Absolutely. We were thinking education would be number one. But they convinced us that roads was number one because, as they said, they couldn't take their produce to market, they couldn't take their children to schools or the health centers if there was no mobility, if there was no way to get there. So our strategy has been to respond to what we know the people want."

My two cents:
The question of 'who knows what's best for a community' is a historic struggle with development. I believe what President Sirleaf stated in her response is spot on, ensuring that Liberians are a part of setting the priorities of their development will go a long way in the success of the country's poverty reduction.

It is normal to have debates on what third-world governments feel are the needs of their country versus what international donor agencies feel are the needs of a country, yet at times we forget to challenge how these governments have come to their conclusions and whether they have consulted their citizens. I am not sure how consultations were conducted in Liberia and whether they were representative of the country as a whole, but it is encouraging that President Sirleaf's administration deemed this component as a priority while devising a poverty reduction strategy for Liberia.

This discussion also links directly to my internship given that one of The Secretariat's primary objectives is to: 'Enhance alignment between Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) and philanthropist-supported activities by identifying specific strategic opportunities.' I know I will be writing more on this in subsequent posts.

The second article discusses whether strong political support internationally will be enough for President Sirleaf to win a second term in office: http://www.africa-confidential.com/article/id/3518/A-second-term-for-Sirleaf

President Sirleaf has enjoyed a great deal of political and financial support from the international community, but this has been less so within Liberia. According to this article, President Sirleaf will be looking at a tough battle during next year's election. It seems that in the bid for President in many third-world countries, there must be a balance in support internationally and at home. We'll see whether the President will be able to gain more political support at home as things unfold in the upcoming months.


  1. yay Afua! I'm excited for you. I wish you an amazing time in Liberia

    Yeah- those intra-Africa flights are no joke. Try Virgin nigeria and Aero contractors, in case they have better prices.

  2. super proud of my fellow "Liberian" and Ghanaian sister!