MAKING THE WEAH’S ‘’ PRO POOR GOVERNMENT A REALITY, A NEW APPROACH THAT FAVORS MORE SOCIAL INTERVENTIONS FOR THE UNDERPRIVILEGED?
The rising needs to address human security challenges in Liberia have influenced President George M. Weah’s decision to suggest a “Pro poor governance” agenda. This great idea has started to manifest in many outlooks which includes the given away of 25% of his salaries and benefits, minimum cut in the price of Liberia’s stipple food (rice) and now a proposal to build military hospital and a coastal highway that will safely link the Country. These are great initiatives, that largely support human security will not only benefit Liberia but the entire region.
Too many arguments have emerged in the community of international security about effective ways of providing safety for people. However, key suggestions were summed up which mainly effort on how to divert Security paradigm from traditional security results to a more human Security solutions. Human security in a broad perspective according to Amouyel goes beyond the absence of violence. It is about the composition of human rights protection, access to good health and education, good governance, and ensuring that every individual has opportunity and choice to become whoever and whatever they want not at the expense of freedom from want, freedom from fear and the freedom of the future generations to inherit a healthy and natural environment (Amouyel 2006).
Today, human security remains the central focus of life. As the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan pointed out that though security used to be all about the defence of a definite territory from external aggression, the concept of security has shifted in a paradigm to mean access to good health and economic up keep (Annan 2000). Tadjbakhsh and Chenoy argued in support of Annan’s submission that defining the term “Human Security” should be a diversion of attention to a ‘people – centred’ rather than a ‘state – centred’ approach to security, which is widely concentrated on the security of the borders (Buzan 1991). In Chandler (2008)’s perspective, human security deals with supporting the underprivileged from position of venerability, identifying threats, avoiding them whenever it is possible (Chandler 2008). In essence, it denotes helping the population faced with enormous underdevelopment. On the flip side, the United Nations general assembly in May 2010, concluded two ideas on the use of the term human security; one is the notion or belief of “Safety” which goes beyond the physical security concept in the traditional sense and the other one is that the livelihoods of people should be secured through “Social Security” against any sudden disturbance or problem (UN 2010). To these variance views based on different situation and analysis, United Nations has its motivation to counter or in some cases prevent the root causes of insecurity and advances people-cantered solutions that are locally driven, comprehensive and sustainable through social interventions.
This multi-dimensional approach to human security is evident in the speech of the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Asha Rose-Migiro when he stated that human security for a family that is hungry means putting food on their table, while it is availability of shelter and a safe haven from havoc wrecked by conflicts, it is an answer of provision of hospitals and schools to people that can’t afford one as a result of poverty (UN 2012).
Weah’s presidency, which was a journey from the densely shantytowns of Gibratta, needs no orientation to solutions that boarder of peculiar experiences. One might think that his actions might fail test of objectivity since they are informed by his personal experience growing in the slum. Interestingly, human security in this age is ‘normative’ in the wisdom that there is a moral obligation to reorient security around individuals in a redistributive sense. In the purview of changes in our political community, citizens reactions and the emergence of international norms relating to human rights: right to good health, school n general freedom (Newman 2001). In other words, Newman suggested that the refutation of human security such as socioeconomic deprivation and exclusion, outrageous abuse of human rights, and the widespread of epidemics, has direct impact on peace and stability in any country. Therefore it is in the best interest of leaders to address human security needs and build a mechanism for less privileged communities to address theirs in line with the interwoven nature of peace and security. A phenomenon that is evident in emergence of President George M. Weah major agenda (Pro Poor government).
Mr. President, in support of your agenda, I would seek this opportunity to throw light on a specific program supported by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is a financial institution established to tackle rural poverty as a threat to human security that emanated as a result of the outcome of famine and drought of the early 1970. The agency has invested more than $10billon in low-interest loans and grants that have saved lives of up to 300 million extremely poor rural women and men by increasing their earnings to provide for their families in developing countries (United Nations Foundation 2016).
In the quest to actualise my objective, I will use Nigeria as a case study. The IFAD has collaborated with the government of Nigeria to reduce its poverty level which was rated according to the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS) in 2011 to be 69.0% with moderate poverty levelling 30.3% while extreme poverty levels 38.7% (NBS 2011). Agriculture, which has been denoted as a viable way to tackle the ravaging poverty in Nigeria, remains relevant to the food and raw materials supplies in Nigeria and employment in the rural area (Thirtle et al. 2003). In concession with the NBS statistics, Omotesho et al. (2010) advanced that over two-thirds of Nigerians are poor irrespective of the fact that the country is a rich in diverse resources. In an attempt to tackle this visible level of poverty in Nigeria, the IFAD targeted its programme towards the Nigerian famers through many agricultural and development programs, capacity building initiatives as well as project for rural empowerment. This agency has been contributing to the eradication of poverty in Nigeria and expended estimated $317.6 million in 10 programmes in Nigeria (IFAD 2016).
The IFAD article titled investing in rural people in Nigeria reveals that the IFAD project named “Agrienterprises” which has the support of the Community-Based Agricultural and Rural Development Programme (CBARDP) and the Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRMP) has proved effective. The programme which established 9,279 business enterprises from its inception to 2014 which encompasses women and the youth in venerable communities has made an impressive impact in the development of human security across Nigeria. Nothing less than 15,710 farmers groups have been supported through planning, development and maintenance of village rural infrastructure by CBNRMP. The CBARDP has also increased the level of women participation which used to be less than 5% to over 35% through rural institutions establishments.
The role of rural skills and financial inclusion cannot be under estimated in any country as a better access to skills and finance offer leverage to people and groups. In Nigeria, the Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN) is another case that can be integrated. The report at the end of 2015 shows 10,550 groups, consisting of 7,550 village savings and credit group (mainly women) have been mentored by RUFIN. In terms of productivity, the farmers that have been assisted by the programme are said to have recorded more than output expected, with 4tons/ha for rice against its 2.8 tons/ha target, 20 tons/ha recorded for cassava against its 18.8 tons/ha targeted, 2.5 tons/ha recorded for sorghum against 1.5 tons/ha targeted and 10 tons/ha of fish recorded against the 7 tons/ha targeted (IFAD 2016). This phenomenon has helped to bring in more income for the farmers, their communities and thereby reducing poverty level.
The success of the IFAD programmes in Nigeria was commended by Fakayode et al. after a research they carried out which reveals that IFAD involvement in reduction of poverty in the rural part of Nigeria has contributed to changing the poverty status of its beneficiary by 34% compared to the programme non beneficiary (Fakayode et al. 2015). A phenomenon can be said to mean that the role of the IFAD in tackling poverty as a threat to human security has played a positive role in Nigeria in engendering global security. However, despite the reduction in poverty rate globally which has been achieved due to factors including IFAD support, the world poverty level is still very high and poverty still pose a great threat to human security globally. According to World Bank, as of 2012,though a large number of 896 million people still live under the poverty line of $1.90 a day, however, it denotes a fall in poverty level compared with 1.95 billion people in 1990 and 1.99 billion people who live in poverty as at 1981 (World Bank 2016).
With no doubts, the CDC PPG agenda will have significant influence in driving Liberia’s social economic interventions and thereby linking the people to their government. While we study the different ways we can help your government achieve this PPG agenda, we submit that your ultimate itinerary to better the lives of the people is never distracted.
By : Emmanuel David Togba, BA, MA, ESS
Post Conflict Security Development Specialist
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