Last year, floods affected over 6,000 inhabitants in Montserrado and kills one in Barclayville, Grand Kru County. 11 out of 15 counties so far are at severe risk of being victimized by this national catastrophe. As flooding heightens in Liberia, everyone especially slum-dwellers of flood-prone settlements are looking up to [the] Weah’s pro-poor government for solution.
Every year, rural and urban communities in Liberia are heavily affected by floods. Thousands of Liberians are made homeless and internally displaced as a result of this national disaster. The nation has a very poor disaster management and prevention strategy to protect lives and properties. Interestingly and sadly, only US$830,000 is budgeted per annum to mitigate disasters and manage its hard-hitting impacts. Clara Town (Gibraltar), Doe Community, West Point, St. Paul Bridge, Crab Hole Community, Bong Mines Bridge, Barclayville, rural and slum communities remain vulnerable to this tragedy (flooding).
Moreover, the National Disaster Management Agency of Liberia has the least budget among disaster agencies in Africa and the world. Even though Liberia is vulnerable to looming disasters, but this pro-poor government is ignoring this reality evident by low budgetary allotment to this life-saving sector or agency.
Those in authority especially the political elites remain insensitive to the plights of the ordinary people. They are allotting just US$830,000 for the National Disaster Management Agency [NDMA] in a period of 12 years when the special operation services budget of President Weah is US$1,370,000 while First Lady Clar Weah gets US$1 million. The budget of the First Lady is more than the NDMA – Wow!
The budgets of:
Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chief (US$1,046,100),
Speaker Bhofal Chambers (US$945,428),
Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor (US$2,149,196), and
President George Weah (US$3,385,823)
Are all bigger than the budget of the National Disaster Management Agency. Isn’t this an irony of Weah’s pro-poor mantra especially when the National Legislature is receiving US$36.2 million in 12 months?
What is the difference between this ‘pro-poor’ government and the government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf? GREED is depriving thousands of Liberians from public safety. The interests of the people has been swept under the carpet without any genuine plans to guarantee public safety through the mitigation and management of all forms of disaster.
See what they are giving to agencies that focus on public interest and safety:
- National Disaster Management Agency – US$830,000
- Youth Rehabilitation Center (MoG) – US$1,000
- Maternal and Child Mortality – US$20,000
- National Food Assistance Agency – US$49,992
- Health Emergency Fund – US$46,879
- National Commission on Disabilities – US$301,386
- High Vulnerable Population – US$500,000
- Drug Enforcement Agency – US$1,787,450
- National Fire Service – US$1,847,292
Recommendation: Because our people’s safety is indispensably paramount, I recommend to President Weah and our National Legislature to increase the budget of all disaster-focused agencies to at least US$5 million. The people’s interest matters! Our ultimate interest is to ensure that our government does what is RIGHT and RIGHTEOUS in the best interest of our PEOPLE. We have a national duty never to economize THE FACTS, but to demonstrate a sense of PATRIOTISM. We have made a solemn pledge to remain loyal to Liberia, our conscience, and no one else!
—–By Martin K. N. Kollie, Activist