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Sida's work in Liberia

In Liberia, Sida supports work for peace, democracy and human rights, economic development for everyone, environmental climate protection. Liberia are one of the poorest countries in the world but has gradually moved towards democracy, peace and stability since the end of the civil war in 2003. The public sector and the legal system are being built up and citizens' rights are being enhanced. The country struggles with widespread corruption, weak institutions and centralised political and administrative power.

Progress has been made

The economy has stabilised

Growth is on the rise and inflation has been pushed back, although many people are still living in poverty.1

Strengthened democracy

Democracy is becoming stronger as the country holds regular and relatively peaceful elections.

Raising ambitions regarding the country’s natural resources

The government’s ambition is to manage and use the country’s natural resources more sustainably, even if progress is slow.

Challenges remain

Unequal society

Society is characterised by poverty, inequality and discrimination. Violence against women, girls 2 and LGBTQI people is widespread. Abortion rights are limited.3 Female political representation in parliament is weak, with only 12 % of the members being women.4

Weak state apparatus

The country’s governance and judicial system are inadequate. Power is wielded by many informal networks.

Natural resources under threat

Liberia is rich in natural resources, but they are poorly managed and rapidly depleting.

Development cooperation in Liberia

Liberia is considered one of the poorest countries in the world but has gradually moved towards democracy, peace and stability since the end of the civil war in 2003.5 The public sector and the justice system are slowly being built up and citizens’ rights are being strengthened. The country struggles with widespread corruption, weak institutions and centralised political and administrative power.6

Liberia is rich in natural resources and has a favourable climate for agriculture, but the agricultural sector needs to be made more efficient and natural resources need to be managed in a sustainable manner. In addition, infrastructure is poor, and this limits people’s access to markets, healthcare and education.

Democracy, gender equality, and human rights

Democracy has been strengthened in Liberia, but few women have political power. Women, girls and LGBTQI people are vulnerable – they have less access to health care, property, justice and education. Violence against girls, women and other vulnerable groups is widespread. Teenage pregnancies are common and nearly 70 % of girls without education are mothers.7 Maternal mortality rates have declined but remain among the highest in the world, largely due to severely restricted abortion rights.8 Liberia’s civil society is active and the country’s media is relatively free.

Streamlining Liberia's tax system

Economic injustice creates poverty and unrest. Sida is supporting cooperation between the Swedish Tax Agency and the Liberian Revenue Authority to make the country’s tax system more efficient.

Swedish Tax Agency website

Educating about sex and self-determination

Sida supports the efforts of RFSU (Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) to ensure that everyone in Liberia is free to decide about their own body and sexuality, regardless of their influence or economic situation. RFSU trains civil society organisations in body empowerment, sexuality and the rights of young people, women and LGBTQI people.

About RFSU’s work in Liberia on Openaid

Working for gender equality

Sida supports Kvinna till Kvinna (Woman to Woman), which works together with local organisations to promote gender equality in Liberia. Kvinna till Kvinna supports survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, supports women to become financially independent and to participate in politics. It also aims to increase access to services regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights.

About the work in Liberia on the Kvinna till Kvinna website

Peaceful and inclusive societies

Liberia remains peaceful almost two decades after the civil war and important steps have been taken to build sustainable peace. But many of the root causes of the war remain, such as the inequitable distribution of land.

Strengthening women's land rights

Ownership, control of, and access to land is one of the main causes of conflict in the country. ForumCiv is working to ensure that Liberia’s land rights law is implemented in a way that benefits local communities. ForumCiv strengthens partnerships between communities and social movements that have similar experiences and challenges in relation to land rights. In this way, civil society can ensure that the government is held accountable for what it has promised. There is a particular focus on women’s land rights.

About the work in Liberia on the ForumCiv website

Further training for women on land management

Lantmäteriet (The Swedish Mapping, Cadastral and Land Registration Authority) i is committed to increasing women’s participation in land management, including scholarships that enable women to further their education in land management. It also provides information in local languages on the basic rights of land ownership through talking books with pre-recorded messages in the languages spoken by the people themselves. It does not require an internet connection or electricity and the information is adapted to the local context.

About the project in Liberia on the Lantmäteriet website 

Support for the media sector

Sida supports the media sector to ensure that people are given access to factual and balanced information, especially through all community radio stations. For several years, Sida has funded ECOWAS Radio, which focuses on building and strengthening peace in its radio programmes.

About ECOWAS Radio Liberia on 

Transparent electoral processes

The 2023 elections will be crucial for the future of Liberia. Sida is working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supporting the local election observation network LEON. The aim is to continue supporting Liberia to conduct peaceful, credible, inclusive and transparent elections.

About the project with UNDP on Openaid 

Economic development for all

Although Liberia’s economy has begun to recover, more than half the population lives in poverty.

The economy has been hit hard by falling market prices for rubber and iron ore, two of the country’s main exports. One of the main challenges is the lack of infrastructure. This hampers economic development, particularly in rural areas. Poor infrastructure makes it harder for people to get to school and health care, especially during the rainy season.

Liberia’s population is young, with more than 70 percent under the age of 35. The majority of those who have jobs are unskilled and work in the informal economy with precarious conditions.

Productive jobs for young people

Today, Liberia is one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to do business, due to complex regulations, corruption, limited access to electricity, poor infrastructure and trade barriers. Mercy Corps is working to increase youth employment. Among other things, the organisation provides career support, matches businesses with job seekers and helps young people start their own businesses.

Mercy Corps’ work in Liberia

Gives farmers access to the market

Of those who have jobs, four out of ten work in agriculture9 where there is a great need for efficiency improvements. Most farmers grow crops for their own use. Sida is working to increase productivity in the agricultural sector and to increase farmers’ access to markets where they can sell their products, for example by supporting the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in developing markets that are accessible to all. This includes linking farms with buyers in the international market, developing certification and increasing traceability. The project builds on lessons learned from the previous GROW Liberia project.

About the project on Openaid

Equipping roads

Liberia’s infrastructure is poor. For example roads are poor and sometimes non-existent. The Liberian-Swedish Feeder Roads Project is rehabilitating rural roads to make it easier for people to move around and sell their goods and services. The roads also make it easier for people to access healthcare and education.

Liberian-Swedish Feeder Roads Projects website

Environment, climate and sustainable use of natural resources

Liberia has rich natural resources and ecosystems, with high biodiversity. The West African tropical forest is an important source of oxygen globally. It also stores carbon, which reduces carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. However, sustainable management of natural resources is weak and puts great pressure on ecosystems. Environmental and climate change is affecting biodiversity and making the country vulnerable.

New cooperative projects for 2022

From 2022, Environment, climate and sustainable use of natural resources will be included as a new thematic area for development cooperation in Liberia. Sida is building partnerships with organisations in this area. The focus will be on:

  • Reducing plastic in the sea and preserving mangrove forests
  • Supporting sustainable forestry
  • Increasing access to renewable energy and improving energy efficiency
  • Limiting climate change impacts and increasing resilience to climate change

We’ll present more examples of what’s being done later.

Increasing access to renewable energy

Liberia is one of the countries in the world with the least access to electricity.10 Sida supports increased access to renewable energy through the Renewable Energy Adaption to Climate Technology (REACT) fund and the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa. Both funds support private companies wishing to invest in Liberia’s energy sector, with a focus on solar energy. In 2021, 60,000 people gained access to renewable energy through REACT.

Updated: October 5, 2022