Fragility And Development In Liberia Essay

1810 words - 8 pages

Since independence, Liberia have struggle with both internal and external problems. The natives resisted the slave-like conditions the settlers employed after independence and the country suffered from financial problems and corruption. At one point, the United States physically took over the Liberia government to prevent bankruptcy. The division and financial problems that plague the nations from the beginning continued until the civil war and post civil war. For 14 years, Liberia fought for the control of the country resources and as a result destroyed roads, schools hospitals, water and sanitation, electricity and livelihoods of survival of the war. By the end of the war, ...view middle of the document...

Looking at the relationship between governance, conflict and development, this paper will examine three fragility indices (foreign aid, corruption and health) and their implication for development.
Post-Conflict Context
The Liberian civil war lasted from 1989 to 2003. In 20 years, the country economy and infrastructure was destroyed. The GDP dropped 90% (OECD, 2012) and exports declined from $486 million in 1978 to 10 million in 2004. The country’s foreign debt increased from 800% of the GDP and exports to 3,100% (Paczynska, 2010). These economic changes greatly affected the Liberian people. Majority of the Liberians could not afford basic needs; and by 2001 76.1% of the population lived below the poverty line and 52% lived in extreme poverty (Kieh, 2009). It is estimated that 250,000 lost their lives and many more became refugees or internally displaced (CIA Factbook, n.d). According to the Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework, the fighting forced large number of people to flee into the city which lead to “an uncontrolled, and unplanned expansion of urban areas which in turn contributed to the deterioration of urban housing, sewage, water and sanitation systems” (Paczynska, 2010, p.11).
The war destroyed roadways, electricity, education and health care. 75% of the education infrastructure was destroyed and schools had to stop operating (Kieh, 2009). In addition, the health system collapsed and disease became widespread. According to the World Bank, health expenditures were $2 per capital annually between 1997 and 2000 and when the war ended, only 50 doctors were left in Liberia (World Bank, )
After Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became president in 2006, Liberia began peace building and reconstruction. The Ellen administration had the daunting task of developing the nation, without resulting to the same mistakes of her predecessor. Charles Taylor made several mistakes when he became president in 1997. First, he failed to hold those responsible for the war accountable, he did not succeed in disarming and demobilizing ex-combats and he failed to address the root causes of the war and continued to commit gross human rights violation (Waugh, 2011). The Ellen administration, however, took a different path. She was able to successfully disarm and demobilize ex-combatants with the help of the Liberian Women and UN peacekeeping forces (Disney, 2008). The Truth and Reconciliation commission was established and the administration vowed to make human rights one of its priority.
The Ellen administration had some success. Between 2006 and 2008, Liberia improved on all indications on the Failed State Index (FSI) (FSI, 2013). The country saw an economic growth of 9.5% in 2007, 7.1% in 2008 and 5% in 2009 (Paczynska, 2010). At the same time, several World Bank lead development initiatives were introduced to Liberia and foreign investment poured in to revamp various sectors (timber, gold, iron ore). Despite these early successes development in Liberia...

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