Liberia is a Sub-Saharan nation in West Africa located at 6 °N, 9 °W. It borders the north Atlantic Ocean to the southwest (580 kilometres (360 mi) of coastline) and three other African nations on the other three sides. In total, Liberia comprises 110,000 square kilometres (43,000 square mi) of which 96,300 square kilometres (37,190 square mi) is land and 15,000 square kilometres (5,810 square mi) is water.
DON BOSCO DEVELOPMENT WORKS AND ACTIVITIES IN LIBERIA
In Liberia, the Salesians of Don Bosco operates with 2 Communities in New Matadi and Sinkor 8th Street, Monrovia. The following are the records of works and projects implemented by the Salesians.
- 2 Pre-Schools for 140 pupils per annum/yearly.
- 2 Primary Schools for 505 pupils per annum/yearly.
- 2 Junior Secondary Schools for 288 pupils per annum/yearly.
- 2 Senior Secondary Schools for 446 pupils per annum/yearly.
- Educational Scholarship Programmes (Post Ebola Project) supporting 127 beneficiaries.
Social and Pastoral Works
- 1 Oratory and Youth Centre recording daily attendance of 570 children and young people and managed by 2 SDB’s and 50 youth leaders, animators and volunteers. Total participants recorded daily are 570 (350 males and 220 females).
- 4 Parishes with about 2,200 faithful managed and supported by 9 SDB’s and 27 lay workers.
- 4 Chaplaincies with about 383 faithful managed by 6 SDB’s.
- 1 Aspirantate Centre.
HABITANT AND POPULATION: According to the 2010 revision of the World Population Prospects, Liberia’s total population was 3,994,000 in 2010. UNDP in July 2014 estimate is 4.092 millions.
LANGUAGE: Although English is the official Liberian language, the form of Pidgin English native to the country (known as Liberian Pidgin English or Liberian Kreyol language) is spoken by approximately only 20 percent of the population. The majority of Liberia’s residents fall into major linguistic categories: the Mande, Kwa and Mel, all of which belong to the Niger-Congo family of African languages.
LITERACY RATE: 47.6%.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: (CIA World Book of Facts 2003 est.): 85%.
INFLATION: (CIA World Fact-book 2014 est.): 9.9%.
HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX: (UNDP 2013 est.): 0.412 Ranking 175th.
POVERTY: Poverty is a severe injustice and an abuse of human rights, especially for children. Liberia has had seven years of peace, yet educational policies have had no meaningful impact on learning, or on reducing poverty for the average Liberian, most especially the children. This author believes that education is pivotal in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty in Liberia and especially the social exclusion that is the reality for many children. The author is convinced that the role of education in our society must be one of achieving universal primary education and adult literacy. These twin areas of human development must become central to the Sirleaf Administration’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) because it is at these levels of education through which most poor children and poor adult pass, and within which their achievements can assist them break the cycle of poverty. Children’s education and adult literacy are critical to longlasting peace, stability and modernization of our country. Over twothirds of the population lives in poverty on less than US$1 a day, with life expectancy still standing at just 45.
GDP-REAL GROWTH RATE: (CIA World Fact-book 2014 est.): 0.5%.
ECONOMY/GDP: Liberia’s economic freedom score is 52.7, making its economy theV141st freest in the 2015 Index. Its score is 0.3 point higher than last year, reflecting improvements in freedom from corruption and trade freedom that offset declines in six of the 10 economic freedoms, including property rights, labor freedom, and business freedom. Liberia is ranked 31st out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall rating remains below the world and regional averages.
Liberia’s high economic growth rates have corresponded with five years of strong advances in economic freedom. With Sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest increase in economic freedom over the past half-decade, Liberia’s score has advanced by 6.2 points. Progress in reducing corruption, improving fiscal accounts, and opening the economy to trade and investment have further cemented Liberia’s progression out of the “repressed” category. Nevertheless, the judicial system and the property rights regime remain weak. Efforts to reform land titling are progressing but not fully implemented. Business and labor regulations are becoming more efficient, but more progress is needed to promote sustained entrepreneurial and job growth.
ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES: Agriculture, Industry and Service.
AGRICULTURE: Before the civil war, agriculture was the main source of livelihood for the great majority of Liberians. Except on plantations operated by foreign concessionaires and wealthy Liberians, farming techniques are primitive. The “bush rotation” system of shifting cultivation is followed, in which the farmer clears up to two ha (5 acres) of wild forest or low bush each year, lightly cultivates it with crude hand tools, and plants rice or cassava as the rainy season begins. In 1999, agriculture engaged about 68% of the labor force on 4% of the total land area. Estimated production of field crops in 1999 included cassava, 313,000 tons; sugarcane, 250,000 tons; and rice, 210,000 tons. The government maintains a retail price ceiling on rice. Rice and wheat productions are insufficient to meet local needs.
The rain forest soils, while well drained, are strongly leached, making Liberia better adapted to tree-crop agriculture than to annual fieldcrop production. The major rubber, rice, coffee, cocoa, vegetable, and fruit producing areas lie outside of Monrovia. Rubber is the leading cash crop, with production in 1999 estimated at 35,000 tons. Before the war, six foreign-owned concessions produced over two-thirds of the rubber crop, with Firestone’s Harbel plantation as the biggest in the world. Firestone ended its long association with Liberian rubber production with the sale of its interests to the Japanese-owned Bridgestone in 1988.
The principal export crops produced by small farmers are coffee, oil palm nuts, sugarcane, and fruits. Estimated production in 1999 was coffee, 3,000 tons; palm oil, 42,000 tons; and palm kernels, 11,000 tons. Banana production came to 90,000 tons; plantains, 35,000 tons. In 2001, Liberia had an agricultural trade surplus of $14 million.
EDUCATION: Most of the schools in the country are being operated by churches or Christian missions, among which are the Catholic Church, Methodist, Episcopal and a few others. Others are being by the government under the supervision of the Monrovia Cooperative School System (MCSS). English is the official language of instruction in Liberian public schools. Tertiary education has also suffered in the past two decades. The core institutions are the University of Liberia (founded as a College in 1863), Cuttington University and Harper Technical College, with contributions also being made by several other private religious institutions. The University of Liberia illustrated here offers graduate courses in education and administration, while Cuttington University adds public health and business administration.
HEALTH: Fourteen years of conflict have contributed to the deterioration of healthcare services in Liberia. In the last two years there has been a gradual expansion in humanitarian emergency health actions to accessible areas of the country. However, the health care delivery system is still in the emergency phase and is heavily reliant on additional external resources in order to increase primary health care coverage and build human and institutional capacity. The health care system in Liberia is highly dependent on support from Agencies and NGOs, which currently implement more than 90% of health service delivery. Access to basic and secondary health care services is still a major problem as more than 75% of the population has no access to referral care services such as essential and emergency obstetric care.
INSTITUTIONS: Politics of Liberia takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic modeled on the government of the United States, whereby the President is the head of state and head of government; unlike the United States, however, Liberia is a unitary state as opposed to a federation and has a pluriform multiparty system rather than the two-party system that characterizes US politics. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the legislature. Liberia is still in transition from dictatorship and civil war to democracy. Liberia’s government is based on the American model of a republic with three equal branches of government, though in reality the President of Liberia has usually been the dominant force in Liberian politics. Following the dissolution of the Republican Party in 1876, the True Whig Party dominated the Liberian government until the 1980 coup, eventually creating what was effectively a oneparty state.
CHILDREN: In 2013, Liberia made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government published data from its national Child Labor Survey conducted in 2010. Additionally, the Government launched the National Steering Committee on Child Labor and began implementing a new National Action Plan on trafficking in persons, which addresses child labor. However, children in Liberia continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and mining. The Government has yet to pass into law the Decent Work Bill, which includes a list of hazardous occupations prohibited for children, and child labor law enforcement efforts are still inadequate.
WATER AND ENVIRONMENT: Environmental issues in Liberia include the deforestation of tropical rainforest, the hunting of endangered species for bush-meat, the pollution of rivers and coastal waters from industrial run-off and raw sewage, and the burning and dumping of household waste. The majority of Liberians in towns, cities and villages alike are still drinking dirty water more than three years after the end of the country’s civil war, a recently released joint United Nations and Liberian government survey says. The Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey, which was carried out nationwide late last year among 5,000 Liberians, said 68 percent of people rely on untreated wells, rivers, ponds, creeks and swamps for drinking water. Even in the capital, Monrovia, Liberian water authorities said conditions are hardly better.
RELIGION: According to the 2008 National Census, 85.6% of Liberia’s population practices Christianity. Muslims comprise 12.2% of the population, largely coming from the Mandingo and Vai ethnic groups. The vast majority of Muslims are Malikite Sunni, with sizeable Shia and Ahmadiyya minorities. Traditional 0.6%, others 0.2%, none 1.4%.