Residents of Botota, Kokoyah Statutory District, have criticized the activities of the Liberia's Millennium Village Project to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and called for a full participation and implementation of plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) by 2015.
The project is a new approach to fighting poverty in post-conflict Liberia, but residents in the District have complained that they had seen no evidence of the project getting off the ground. In a brief statement to the President, Deputy Speaker Tokpah J. Mulbah indicated that the project, which seeks to improve the socio-economic and infrastructural development of the District lacked the residents' involvement and that there was not tangible impact being felt by the villagers. He added that the people of that District were discontent about the way the project is being implemented in their village.
The interactive session between the President and the locals was held on December 5, at the Wesseh Gardea Elementary and Junior High School in Kokoyah District.
“Madam President, millions of dollars have been spent on the Millennium Village Project but we have seen nothing concrete done for our people,” he said.
Additionally, Rep. Tokpah J. Mulbah revealed that no citizen from the District had been employed with the project and there is also no idea as to how the project is functioning in the district. “Madam President, we know the system you put in place since you came to power is credible but such system must benefit our people,” the Deputy Speaker noted.
He used the occasion to thank the President for visiting the district because since 1975, no President has visited residents of that area. The last President to visit Kokoyah was William R. Tolbert. Rep. Mulbah also lauded the President for the road construction currently taking place in the country and the enthusiasm of many Liberians to seek higher education since she took over as leader of the country. His appeal to President Sirleaf was also supported by Bong County Senior Senator Jewel Howard Taylor.
In response, President Sirleaf promised to get a report on the project before taking a decision. She told the residents that she had heard both good and bad news about Kokoyah but it is about time everyone work together to bring development to the people. “The best politics for our people is development because if you do something good for the people, they will remember them always when you are not around”. President Sirleaf told the citizens as they give a round of applause.
The Liberian leader informed the citizens that Government has made lots of progress but there are still more to be done. She appealed to them to cooperate with county officials and their lawmakers to undertake projects in the community. Minutes after the welcoming ceremony of the President by the residents, President Sirleaf drove to the headquarters of the village project which is about 2 miles away from the central district of Kokoyah.
President Sirleaf, along with some cabinet ministers, went in the offices of the village project to make inquiries of the residents' accusation. Detail of the meeting was not revealed to Executive Mansion reporters who were on that trip with Liberian leader but sources from the Executive Mansion disclosed that those in charge of the project were in that meeting to answer the President's questions.
Kokoyah District is located in the south-east of Bong County, on the border with Grand Bassa and Nimba counties with a cluster of villages of about 15,000 people with a mix of cultural and modern system but lacking the revenue and capacity to gain the basic services necessary to sustain economic growth. UNDP Liberia, inspired by the Millennium Village Project concept headed by one Professor Jeffery Sachs, who serves as MDGs Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General planned the first Millennium Village; as part of a new global approach to lift developing countries rural sectors out of the poverty trap that afflicts more than a billion people worldwide. The project was launched by the United Nations Secretary General to develop an implementation plan to achieve the MGDs by 2015.
The kokoyah project was selected as Liberia's first Millennium Village Project, which aims at integrating the interventions needed to achieve the MDGs at the village level. It provides a basis for scaling up and integrating best practices in the areas of agriculture, education, nutrition, health, water and the environment.