LIBERIA
 

STATEMENT

BY

HON. OPHELIA HOFF SYATUMAH
ACTING CITY MAYOR OF MONROVIA

ON BEHALF OF HER EXCELLENCY THE HONORABLE AMELIA A. WARD MINISTER
OF PLANNING AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS

AT THE TWENTY-FIFTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR AN OVER ALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OUTCOME OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS (HABITAT II)

NEW YORK, 8 JUNE 2001



 Your Excellencies;
The President of the General Assembly;
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations;
Madam Executive Director, UNCHS (HABITAT);
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

I bring you fraternal greetings and warm felicitations from the President ofthe Republic of Liberia, H.E. Charles Ghankay Taylor, the Government and People of Liberia on this important but unique occasion of Istanbul +5 the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

I also wish to register our heartfelt congratulations and deepest sense of appreciation to Madam Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UNCHS (Habitat), Dr. Axumite Gebre-Egziaglier, Coordinator of Istanbul +5, the Conference Secretariat and the entire UNCHS (Habitat) family for the excellent manner in which this Conference was organized and for the kind reception and hospitality accorded us since our arrival to participate in these deliberations.

Your Excellencies;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

Since this session is being convened to review and assess the implementation of the results of the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT Il) held in Istanbul, Turkey in June 1996, I take this opportunity to appraise you of events and progress made by my Government since the convening of Habitat II, as well as in preparation for this Istanbul +5 meeting.

 As a country emerging from civil conflict and confronted with the challenges of rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery, shelter and human settlements have been accorded high priority in our National Reconstruction Program (NRP) 1998-2000 which was submitted to the Donor Community on Liberia held in April 1998 in Paris, France. Similarly, shelter and human settlement is again identified as high priority in the five (5) year Medium Term Plan (MTP) 2001 - 2045 presently being formulated.

In preparation for Istanbul +5, we undertook a national review of our Habitat Program, prepared and submitted a Country Assessment Report on the implementation of the Habitat Program in Liberia, updated our National Plan of Action and the Urban Indicators for Monrovia. We also participated in the Istanbul +5 Preparatory meetings.

Your Excellencies;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is an honour for me to now present to this August body an overview of the implementation of the Habitat Program in Liberia and its constraints and problems:

An Overview of the Implementation of the Habitat Program in Liberia and its Constraints and Problems

In order to ensure effective coordination, collaboration, networking and partnership among the various partners and stakeholders involved in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the shelter and human settlements and to ensure the maximum utilization and application of the limited resources available, an initiative was undertaken by the Government of Liberia to establish the National Habitat Committee of Liberia (NHCL) chaired by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs. The
 composition of the Committee is broad based, comprising of members from the civil society, non-governmental, private and community-based entities. The work of the Committee is facilitated through well defined sub-committees with clearly defined scctoral functions, work programs, expected outputs and targets.

Additionally, as further support to the work of the committee and the implementation of habitat programs and projects in the country, the Government provides budgetary appropriation as counterpart funding. Although Government is constrained by limited resources, this appropriation is increased on a yearly basis to reflect the commitment of Government to the program.

Specific Programs and Projects

The UNDP and UNCHS (Habitat) has provided technical and financial assistance to the Government of Liberia which has resulted in the preparation of Program Support Documents (PSDs) for the reconstruction of housing infrastructure and services totaling US$11,924,000.

At the moment there is an on-going GOL/UNDP/UNCHS(Habitat) Capacity Building Program for the Reconstruction of Rural Housing in Liberia (Project LIR/99/004) inn the amount of $1.5 million. This project is building capacity at both the national and local levels for the reconstruction and effective delivery of housing in Liberia. This project also deals with the transfer of appropriate local building material technology, training local artisans and community residents in the production and utilization of improved local building materials as well as simple construction techniques. There is also a micro-credit component that is providing credit assistance to construction related micro enterprise for employment acid income generation to reduce poverty among the beneficiaries.

Habitat For Humanity International, an ecumenical NGO based in Georgia, USA, is providing building materials loan assistance to rural dwellers for the construction and ownership of simple decent and affordable homes. The beneficiaries are to repay the loans over an extended period of ten years. The repayment amounts are placed ún a revolving fund for the expansion of the program in targeted communities. These loans are interest free.

The Shelter Afrique a Pan African housing finance institution in which Liberia is a member has agreed in principle, to provide a $1 million line of credit to the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment for on-ward lending to potential beneficiaries for the rehabilitation and restoration of damaged housing units in Monrovia and its environs.

A number of private investors and developers are also negotiating with the Government through the National Housing Authority and the National Investment Commission for the construction of various types and models of housing estates.

Your Excellencies;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

Despite the efforts made for the successful implementation of programs and projects, there are problems and constraints.

 Problems and Constraints

There is a funding gap which is inhibiting the expansion and replication of these programs and projects to other parts of the country where there is a dire need for housing and services. Furthermore, the prevailing poor road condition in the country is also having a negative impact on the delivery of rehabilitation and reconstruction progams. The impact of the civil conflict has contributed to weak institutions and structures in government thereby affecting its ability for planning and programming, provision of complementary support and backstopping services for reconstruction and development initiatives.

Areas for Additional Assistance

Despite support by Government and the International Community to Habitat Programs/Projects, additional assistance will be required for formulation and development of a National Housing Policy and Shelter Strategy for the effective implementation of shelter and human settlements.

The Government of Liberia will also appreciate technical and capacity building assistance to strengthen the national and local institution and structures to cope with the challenges of the reconstruction process.

Your Excellencies;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

Conclusion

Full resettlements and reintegration of the internally and externally displaced Liberians cannot be achieved without successful shelter and human settlements programs. I wish to therefore appeal to the international community, particularly ow development partners, the UNDP and UNCHS, to seek further assistance on our behalf for the successful implementation of habitat programs in Liberia, as it relates to the implementation of the Habitat National Plan of Action which was reviewed and updated for this Istanbul +5 meeting.

May I use this opportunity to call for greater cooperation and networking among regional members states and partners in order to ensure proper coordination to achieve best results, taking into advantage of the Technical Cooperation and Development Countries (TCDC) initiative of the UNDP.

Finally, on behalf of the President, Government and people of Liberia, I wish to extend our thanks and appreciation to the international community, our development partners, in particular for their continuous support in our reconstruction process. I also which to reaffirm Government's commitment and support for the Habitat Agenda and shall undertake the appropriate action to accelerate the implementation of the habitat program in Liberia.