Liberia and the United Nations Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation in Liberia.
Speaking during the signing ceremony at the Ministry of Internal Affairs on Wednesday, UNICEF Country Representative Laila O. Gad said, as part of the agreement, UNICEF will work with the Ministry of Internal Affairs through Superintendents of the 15 counties and line ministries in boosting the government’s decentralization program to enhance service delivery.
Ms Gad said, through the MOU, UNICEF and the Ministry of Internal Affairs will also work with civil society organizations, the Council of Chiefs and Elders and traditional leaders to combat early child marriage, female genital mutilation, and to promote women and children’s rights, and youth participation in decision making.
“We will work with the Council of Chiefs and Elders in ensuring every child is immunized, every child is protected and every child is safe from harm. We will hold a number of town hall meetings on important issues, such as early marriage, and teenage pregnancy. We will also be working with the young people to hear their views and ensure their participation in decision-making,” she said while sitting alongside Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf.
These programs, she added, will align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She then pledged UNICEF’s commitment to reactivating the road map to end open defecation in Liberia, and at the same time partnering with the WASH Commission to improve water, sanitation and hygiene.
For his part, Minister Sirleaf lauded UNICEF for the partnership and pledged the Ministry’s commitment to ensuring the programs earmarked are implemented successfully.
He renewed the administration’s pledge to support women and children’s rights, adding the protection of women’s rights is pivotal to keeping the peace.
“Women are very important in our society. If we protect their rights and we allow them to reach their full potential, that is going to help to keep the peace that we have,” he said.
“If we can help to protect their rights, it will be better. This is a relationship that we are forging based on mutual respect. I want to say to you that MIA remains committed to working with you.”
He thanked UNICEF for supporting the construction of a service centre in Lofa. He explained after the Ministry lost the previous service centre in Voinjama, UNICEF –Liberia intervened timely and supported the re-construction.
He disclosed that the centre is nearing completion and invited the UNICEF Liberia boss to the official dedication which is expected to be held soon.
County Service Center (CSC) is a one-stop-shop where documentation services relating to permits, licenses and certifications are offered at the same quality and cost in Monrovia.
The County Service Center is part of the National De-concentration Platform, which is primarily intended to bring services closer to the people.
However, in most part of the counties, service delivery is slowing due to low budgetary allocation and other constraints. UNICEF and MIA are hopeful that through the MOU, service delivery will be enhanced.