I bring you greetings from the Government of Liberia during this sixtieth session of the Commission on Social Development.
Madam Chair, as Liberia’s Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, my delegation takes this opportunity to extend warm congratulations to you and the members of the Bureau on your election and assure our full support and cooperation during the Session.
Madam Chair, Liberia currently faces a series of endogenous shocks, further exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19, and that are largely driven by currency depreciation, declining external assistance, among others. Food insecurity is widespread with an estimated 2.4 million people moderately or severely food insecure as reported in March 2021 during the conduct of Liberia’s Food Security Assessment. Moreover, 63 percent of the population are multidimensional poor (with women more affected), 30 percent of children aged 6-59 months are stunted, and 3 percent are acutely malnourished.
With these challenges, the Government of Liberia’s national development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (2018-2023), aims to make Liberia a middle-income country by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. As a developing nation, we are striving to make progress in sustaining livelihoods, the well-being and dignity for its people – including vulnerable groups, particularly in eradicating poverty and hunger, despite the emergence of COVID-19 that has exacerbated progress and slowed-down planning and implementation for the socio-economic advancement. Especially, in addressing poverty and hunger within the context of achieving 2030 Agenda.
Madam Chair, despite the challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are gradually recovering inclusively and resiliently. Liberia’s economy grew by 3.6 percent last year from negative 3 percent in 2020, and growth this year is expected to be 4.7 percent, through increased agricultural and public investments in social compact program. In nominal value, the Liberian economy expanded by more than US$300 million in 2021. Inflation was reduced to less than 6 percent in November 2021, from 13.1 percent in December 2020.
Based on the economic crisis posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Liberia Social Safety Nets Project has expanded its beneficiary pool with an additional 15,000 households making a greater impact in the lives of 18,300 beneficiaries in needy-counties, with 82 percent of the beneficiaries being females and 27 percent being males. The Liberian Household Social Registry is being rolled-out with 233,000 Households profiled across five (5) counties -- Bomi, Bong, Nimba, Maryland and Montserrado, in order to establish the basic building blocks for social protection and an equitable and objective process to the distribution of our limited resources.
Madam Chair, to eradicate poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions, we conducted a National Agriculture Fair in February 2021 to solicit support for investment in the agriculture sector. Considerations are being made to increase acres planted in most crops, but especially so for basic foods like rice, cassava, oil palm and vegetables, in order to address poverty and hunger; as well as investing in agricultural machinery, and the provision of tools, equipment, seeds, seedlings to farmers, farming communities and cooperatives.
Madam Chair, to increase access to finance for our farmers, which derailed due to COVID-19 induced lock-downs and the closure of several banks in rural areas, eleven (11) Rural Community Financing Institutions are now operational. Several companies and agro-processors in the cassava sector, arguably Liberia’s largest agriculture sector, also stand out for their outstanding supply of gari and fufu flour to national food reserves for re-distribution during the COVID-19 emergency.
Madam Chair, we have been concerned about a more holistic approach to prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, particularly with the emergence of the COVID-19 when most women and girls were confined in their homes. The Presidential Taskforce on Sexual and Gender Based Violence was setup through the implementation of the "Government of Liberia and Partners’ Anti-Sexual and Gender Based Violence Roadmap 2020-2022". Through this, we now have a DNA machine in country to aid in evidence gathering of related sexual and gender-based violence cases - this will bring relief and justice to both survivors and alleged perpetrators during the legal proceedings of Sexual and Gender Based Violence cases at the level of the court. We have made interventions in rehabilitation of safe homes and one-stop centers, as well as other safe spaces for children. Our Traditional and religious leaders are also beefing up the efforts to change the story and narratives of survivors and victims, as well as supporting prevention efforts of sexual and gender-based violence, including eradicating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and uphold all basic human rights for all.
Madam Chair, I would like to thank the World Food Programme (WFP) for supporting the Government’s COVID-19 Household Food Support Programme (COHFSP) through the provision of food assistance to 2.5 million vulnerable persons affected by the COVID-19 prevention measures – this contributed to the reduction of hunger in several communities amidst the restriction of movements.
As a Government, we remain committed to eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions, particularly within the context of the Global Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We will continue to solicit support in order to end poverty and hunger, realize the human rights of all, achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources.
Madam Chair, I would like to thank you and the members of the Bureau for steering the affairs of this sixtieth session of the Commission on Social Development. We look forward to your continuous support as we contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We wish everyone a fruitful deliberation.