Our work is focused in Liberia. A small West African country located on the bulge of Africa and is about the U.S. State of Tennessee. It shares land borders with the Ivory Coast, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Liberia was created by the American Colonization Society as a safe haven for manumitted African American slaves in 1822. The country received its independence and became the first free African republic with a government modeled after the United States of America.
Since its independence on July 26, 1847, Liberia has been plagued by crises, abject poverty and an insurmountable rate of illiteracy. These unattended political, economic and social issues were a result of rampant corruption and total lack of good governance; the result of a bloody military coup in 1980 that led to a devastating civil war. These two internal uprisings destroyed approximately 300,000 lives, left the country’s infrastructure in ruins, and destroyed its entire social fabric; ultimately, leaving a nation of totally emasculated people. More than 600,000 Liberians who fled the atrocities – rape, child labor, torture, etc. – sought refuge in neighboring countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Ghana and a host of other countries in West Africa, as well as in Europe and the United States.
At the end of the war in 2003, the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) restored peace and stability in the country. This ushered in a new and democratically elected government headed by a Harvard-trained public administrator, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The country has since enjoyed relative peace and stability and has been making efforts to rebuild and create better socio-economic conditions for its citizens.
The impact of the war left overwhelming suffering, increased poverty, illiteracy, and over- crowdedness of the capital city Monrovia, as a result of mass migration from rural areas.
Currently, at a population of nearly 4 million (3,195,931 July 2007 est.); growth rate of 4.836% (2007 est.); birth rate at 43.75 births/1,000 population (2007 est.); total infant mortality rate at 110.73 deaths/1,000 live births and life expectancy at 40.39 years; Liberia is placed amongst the world’s “least livable” countries due to the extreme rate of poverty and poor quality of life of its citizens; living on less than a dollar a day (UN-2009 Country Report 2009 and LDHS, 2007.
Considering the aforementioned, there is a genuine need to mobilize resources, both human and material, to address the challenges faced by Liberians. The country is a rich and endowed with many natural resources and we, Liberians, can make our country better and livable again for all of its citizens, if we all work together.
Population: 3,955,000 (2009)
National language(s): English (official), some 20 ethnic languages
Per capita income: US$ 160/year (2009)
Life expectancy: 59 (2009)
Percentage of population using improved drinking water sources: 68% (2008)
Percentage of population using adequate sanitation facilities: 17% (2008)
Under 5 Mortality Rate: 112/1,000 live births (2009)
Source: UNICEF: The State of the World’s Children Report