Located on the western coast of Africa, Liberia is a country rich with beauty and natural resources. The lush green landscape is home to many precious gems and metals. Despite this, poverty in Liberia is a large problem. It ranks 174 out of 187 on the United Nations Development Index. Infectious disease runs rampant in the country and the majority of Liberians have little to no education. Two civil wars in the last 30 years have decimated the country’s infrastructure and led to widespread poverty.
Liberia’s population consists mainly of smallholder farmers that struggle to produce enough to feed their families. This has led to poverty in Liberia reaching 68 percent and 35 percent of the population being malnourished. The civil wars have left the country with inadequate roads, water and other basic infrastructure, which has proving a significant barrier for economic growth.
The country’s civil wars also contributed to the over 250,000 Liberian orphans who frequently suffer from malnutrition and are sometimes completely abandoned. Liberia’s education and health systems are both in need of great improvement. The lack of health care access often leads to high fatality rates among those with treatable or preventable diseases. As far as education goes, only half of Liberians are literate, and many Liberian children are kept out of school in order to help on their families’ farms.
The focus of USAID in combating poverty in Liberia is collaborating with the Liberian government to help rebuild the infrastructure and revitalize mining and other utilization of natural resources in the country. Government strategies focus on stimulating the private sector by providing access to credit and infrastructure to Liberians.
The good thing about Liberia is that it has the landscape and resources available to make it a prosperous country. Now that a stable government is in place, infrastructure can be rebuilt and resources can be utilized to their full potential. For this reason, one of the pillars of USAID’s action in Liberia is strengthening Democracy and Governance. Once infrastructure is rebuilt, and this can happen rapidly with the help of USAID, the resources flowing out of Liberia will benefit the global economy and western investment will be paid back in spades.
– Martin Drake
Sources: Children of the Nations, USAID