Liberia Community Development Foundation – for sustainable development

By Denise Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following our
interview with George D. Varkpeh of the Liberia
Community Development Foundation
. We talked to him about his organization,
the projects it implements, and asked him about women empowerment. 
Local communities have to become self-reliant without depending from food important, a key factor for development in all African countries.  

How was the Liberia Community Development Foundation Founded?
Many communities as well as sectors including education,
health, vulnerable groups, food security, water and sanitation, transportation
and gender equity in Liberia are badly damaged and/or affected, coupled with
the destruction of infrastructure, thus creating unbearable living condition which
have negative impacts on communities. It has become very difficult for many
communities to find better ways of doing things, both for the present and
future to meet diverse needs in existing and future communities, promoting
personal wellbeing, social cohesion and inclusion and creating equal
opportunities. Women still remain highly vulnerable and exposed to violence.
Illiteracy rate is high among women and rural women depend on subsistence
agriculture and play a central role in food production.
Realizing this and to intervene suitably to add up to
real change, the Liberia Community Development (LCDF) was organized to work
along with local communities for sustainable development that will bring many
benefits in economic growth and activities. Local communities need to be
empowered for sustainability. Money that is now going toward food imports
should be rechanneled for job training, human services, purchase of farm
implements so as to enable local communities become self-reliant.

What are the issues that you address?
For sustainable development to provide an approach for
communities to become agents of their own, economic growth and activities, LCDF
addresses the below issues:
Gender Equity
Abject poverty
Food security
Water and sanitation
Household enterprises
Farming equipment
What are, according to your experience the key elements that lead to
community empowerment?
Lack of job training
Lack of economic activities
Poor farm to market road
Water and sanitation
Communities that lack the basic elements to live
Advocacy regarding community rights
Household enterprises
Environment and resource rights
Low income
Food security
Institutional capacities
Community & economic development
Empowerment of women to hold elected officials
accountable for the management of revenues accrued from natural resources
Awareness to report on assessment in forums and on
community radio stations
Do you carry out any specific project in order to
promote women’s rights and empowerment?
Yes, we have specific projects
we carry out to promote women’s rights and employment. In this field, I can
give you two examples:

Project A: “Integrated agriculture for women’s Empowerment”
To eradicate extreme hunger and poverty through
increased agricultural production and productivity
To promote gender equity
To empower women through skills  development 
in entrepreneurship
Women participation, control over assets, and
increased decision-making power

Project B: Strengthening women and advocacy in the
implementation of corporate social responsibility provisions in concession agreements
To raise awareness and advocacy regarding women rights
related to the forestry sector
Resource rights
Increase women engagement in the forestry sector by
strengthening the capacity of women forestry development committees to engage
with the government and logging companies, monitor compliance with forest laws
and ensure benefit sharing agreements are upheld
Program development, ethics and accountability

How do you identify and select the communities where you intervene?
For sustainable development to confront problems faced
by communities, Liberia Community Development Foundation conduct need
assessments through visitations, holding of meetings with local authorities and
carrying out analysis on,
Economic indicators
Geographic profile
Law, regulations, and policies
Gender issues
Cultural norms
Information collected on target beneficiaries
Arrange for and conduct market research in selected target communities
Working with other organizations to learn more about the communities
Individual interviews