Help us meet our goal of raising $50,000

Friday, March 21, 2008

Join us for a Girls Ed. Dance Party Fund Raiser

Spring Masquerave Dance Party!!!

April 12th @ Cafe Babu
1335 Broadway in BOULDER
on the corner of University and Broadway, next to the Boulder Mountaineering shop!

10pm-6am! Yep all night! So bring your comfy dancing shoes!
Suggested donation $20

Music by:
Future Simple Project=
Alala One=
and special guests!!!!

Lizzy Scully Slide Show to Help Fund GEI Liberia Project

I'm heading up to Seattle on March 30 and will be doing a slide show for Feathered Friends on April 3rd. The slide show will be about Heidi's & my 12-year climbing partnership and friendship, and how our foreign expeditions inspired us to start Girls Ed. There will be photos from our expeditions as well as video, plus photos of our projects in Liberia, Pakistan, and Nepal. This door money from this show will be donated directly to our project in Liberia. For more information, please contact the cool folks there at: (206) 292-2210. There address is: 119 Yale Avenue N., Seattle, Washington 98109.

Thanks Casey Middle School (Boulder, CO)

The 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at Casey Middle School in Boulder are raising money for Girls Education International! I just did a 20-minute slide show there this past Wednesday, March 19th. The kids were really wonderful, well behaved, and enthusiastic. Plus, the presentations they did before my slide show and after were awesome. I'm so impressed by these 350 youngsters. Right now they are doing a penny war (i.e. racing to see which class fills up a five-gallon jug with money first). The day I left the 6th graders were ahead with the 8th graders in second place. The money they raise will go directly to our Pakistan projects.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Information on the counties in Liberia where we are going to be working


A Profile


Bong County is one of the fifteen (15) Counties in Liberia and derives its name from Mount Bong located in the southwest part of the County. It is bounded to the north by the Republic of Guinea, to the west and northwest by Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa counties, and to the east by Nimba County. Its political administrative capital, Gbarnga, is centrally located in the County. As at July 2005, Bong County has an estimated population of 804,000.

The Liberian civil war began on December 24, 1989, and affected the socio-economic and political mainstay of the county. The war has had a profound impact on the people of Bong County. It led to massive displacement of the population, a majority of them being children and women. It also led to the destruction of the productive capacity and physical infrastructure of the county. NGOs providing social and emergency services in the county withdrew their personnel and halted activities. During the war, a number of towns were burnt down, causing massive displacement of people. All these factors have combined to increase the impoverishment of the people in the county, with a negative impact on child health, access to education and other basic social services. The war also had a negative influence on children in the sense that many young girls became prostitutes; children were sexually abused and many were forcibly recruited to fight. It has aggravated social problems and contributed to the spread of communicable diseases.

The civil war exacerbated the culture of violence, destroyed common moral values in communities and families and produced a weak legal framework for the protection of human rights. During the war many crimes were perpetrated both by and on children.

The County sustains an economy based on agriculture and mining which is generally underdeveloped due to devastations by an over-a-decade-long civil war. The local economy is currently surviving through the activities of donor agencies, NGOs and private entities operating in the area since the ceasefire and disarmament came into effect. The revival effort of UNMIL, NGOs and other agencies operating in the County is the livewire upon which the County relies for survival. Government control over the county is minimal, with the enforcement of most laws and regulations virtually non-existent. Social services such as health (with the exception of Phebe LWF Mission Hospital), education, justice and housing are non functional. The same derelict situation exists as regards the provision of basic public utility services such as water, sanitation, telecommunications and electricity. On the whole, security in the county has remarkably improved after disarmament. Food security in the county is a problem as the county is not self-sufficient in the production of food. The population has been largely depending on food aid packages from donors, charitable organizations, and agencies to supplement whatever they produce.

The infrastructure base of Bong County is currently weak after several years of war and neglect. Public utility services such as water, electricity, postal systems, roads and telecommunications, among others are non-existent. The road network has not developed beyond a single all-weather road that links the county to the Capital city (Monrovia) in the south, and Ganta (Nimba County) to the north. Un-tarred roads make up over 95 percent of the road in Bong County.

Housing remains a problem in all the communities in the county. The devastation of the war is visible in almost every town or village. Houses in all villages are not suitable for habitation. People returning to their homes after the war only found their houses either burning out or being occupied by other people, sometimes by ex-combatants. This situation led to tensions between landlords and the occupants of the houses in certain districts. In general, the shelter situation in Bong County is better in comparison with other counties. The level of destruction varies from district to district. Over 60 percent of the pre-war houses are inhabited and less than 10 percent of the occupied houses are newly constructed. Imported building materials, such as cement and corrugated iron sheets are available in most district capitals, though most building materials are brought from Monrovia. A number of building material dealers have started operating on a small scale in Gbarnga.

The National Government is currently represented in the County by a Superintendent and twelve (12) District Commissioners., 13 Paramount Chiefs, 42 Clan Chiefs, two Chiefs of Townships and one Statutory District Commissioner. At present, some of the Ministries are not fully deployed in the County. There are temporal appointees who represent the Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce, Health, Finance, Justice, Labour and Education in the County. Infrastructure such as administration offices, official residencies, and other public administration facilities are in various stages of disrepair throughout the County. However,

Development of Civil Society

Civil Society comprises local Non-Governmental Organizations, such as youth and women groups, NGOs, political parties, and the media. Political parties and the media will be dealt with in the ad hoc clusters. Many youth organizations with various goals, objectivities, and activities are in existence and are operational across the County under the umbrella of Bong Youth Association. The Bong Youth Association is engaged in sports and other activities such as football and kickball, peace building, reconciliation, human rights and community development, and is especially involved in developing human resources by building the capacity of youth through skills training in the areas of agriculture, carpentry, etc. In addition, the Association has, among others, been involved in voter and civic education, collaboration with some community agencies, and is presently participating in the ongoing vaccination programme taking place in Gbarnga. Furthermore, it is actively engaged in the preparation of the forthcoming National Youth Congress by working on a statement to be presented at the Congress on behalf of the youth of the County.

Regarding women’s organizations, it is worth noting that the Bong Women’s Association and the Women in Peace Building Network, (WIPNET) Bong County Branch are providing advocacy for the protection of women. The Bong Women’s Association in collaboration and coordination with the County Gender Development Coordinator, is engaged in promoting women’s rights by combating trafficking and sexual abuse, raising awareness on HIV/AIDS, and providing vocational skills training, e.g. in sewing, while WIPNET’s Bong County Branch, is actively involved in the peace process. The organization recently organized a peaceful and orderly march to denounce the increasing wave of ritualistic killings in the County.


Presently, Bong County has eight community radio stations:

1. Radio Gbarnga, Gbarnga City
2. Voice of Heritage, Gbarnga City
3. Radio Leelah, Gbarnga City
4. Supper FM, Totota City, Salala District
5. Salala Broadcasting System, Salala District
6. Radio Leeseah, Samay City
7. Voice of Reconciliation, Papala City
8. Radio Bonkie, Peleh City


Health and Nutrition

The provision of health services was severely affected by the civil war. However, the Phebe Hospital which coordinates the County Health Office is now fully operational and has assigned professionally trained health workers (nurses, physician assistants, midwives) to health centres and clinics in various districts and cities. Additionally, regular vaccination campaigns against polio and other communicable diseases are on-going under the supervision of Phebe Hospital, the second major referral hospital in Liberia. Additional health services are provided by UNMIL BanBatt Military Hospital. Notwithstanding the efforts of health services providers, there is still a serious lack of essential drugs, and safe drinking water. There is also a dire need for more doctors, nurses and health workers to improve the overall health situation of the citizens.


The war has seriously affected the educational sector in Bong County. Some efforts are being made locally to provide basic education services. However, most of these initiatives operate out of temporary structures with no resources and are overseen by volunteer teachers with mediocre professional skills.

The enrolment ratio in primary schools is 25.4/24.6 (male/female) and 37.6/19.6 percent (urban/rural) while the gross enrolment is 74.9/66.0 percent (male/female). Also, the school system is limited by a critical shortage of classrooms, text books and instructional materials. According to UNICEF, adult literacy rate is generally low -- 38.5 percent with males and females forming 54 percent and 24.5 percent respectively.

Only a limited number of teachers have been properly trained. Most teachers work as volunteers and have not been paid for some time. Schools tend to lack even the most basic rudiments: text books, lesson planning books, supplies and furniture. However, the education in Bong County is active, though most schools are currently non-functional. In some districts, there are a number of public and private first and second cycle schools that are in session. Cuttington University (CU) is the only higher institution of learning in the county.



Before the Civil War, the agricultural system in Bong was very functional and productive in various communities. The agricultural base has been greatly undermined by major population displacements triggered by the war. A significant number of agricultural infrastructures were destroyed during the war. Seed stocks were looted and facilities vandalized. Activities have recently resumed with the improvement in the security brought about by the deployment of UNMIL and the disarmament of ex-combatants. Agricultural activities in the county are limited to subsistence farming of traditional food crops such as rice, maize, cassava, vegetables and other food crops. Other sources of food are plantain, banana and fruits which more or less grow in the wild. The many rivers and streams in the county serve as a main source of fish for domestic consumption. There are also some signs of livestock production though on a low scale

There are two agricultural systems in Bong County: communal farming and Kuus. Communal farming is like a cooperative system in which communities are engaged in large farm production in the town or village, and after harvest the proceeds are used for development upon agreement from the community either to build clinic, pit latrines or wells. Kuu is the system where farmers organize themselves into groups of from seven up to twenty-two members, whereby each member of the group will be given a special time to go and work on his or her farm as a rotational procedure of the group. In this system, farmers find it very rewarding to carry on their work fast and on time. In this light, the government encourages farmers to be certificated so as to protect and guarantee their kuus against any form of embarrassment. This practice is carried on across the length and breadth of the county.

Livestock production in Bong has always been the least priority compared to food production. Industry plays a minimum role. This is indicative of the high animal importation of livestock as well as livestock products. Cattle, goats, pigs, Guinean pigs, chicken, ducks and guinea fowl are the main animals used in Bong County Livestock Agriculture. Although, the local breeds are well adapted to the local conditions, their productive capacity is lower than that of the exotic breeds. Local breeds have recovered as producing stunted babies, and the maturity period is longer than that of the exotic breeds. Livestock breeding, housing, and health are also major problems in Bong and is still at a very low scale.

In all districts, Farm Inspectors are mandated to direct and monitor the activities of farmers and help them learn new technologies, which farmers are not aware of. They also help NGOs to identify farmers who need farm inputs and to stop duplication of functions in the same town or village. Farm Inspectors make reports of all agriculture activities in the districts for onward submission to the superintendent’s office.


Many rivers, streams and fish ponds existing in the County serve as a main source of fish for domestic consumption. The local fish production is supplemented by fish from the ocean and sold on the local markets. There is no sign of large scale or industrial fishery.



No power system exists in the County. UNMIL, UN Agencies, NGOs, and some private homes and businesses are using generators. However, a power system project is being considered under the auspices of the World Bank.


Bong County has a dense road network of about 25 roads that connect the County districts, towns and cities. However, their conditions are deplorable and do not facilitate free movement of persons, goods and services. Some of the roads are being repaired with foreign intervention like the Totota-Sanoyea Road under rehabilitation with USAID financing. Some others are being taken care of by the communities themselves like the Gbartala-Fenutolie (border with Grand Bassa County) Road in Yelequelleh District. Meanwhile, transport from and to the County is facilitated by pickups and other small trucks, private cars, and yellow taxi cabs. The transport from and to neighbouring countries is mainly carried out by big trucks.


No public telecommunications system exists in the County. Meanwhile, two private cellular phone companies -- Lonestar and Libercell- are providing services to subscribers. They, however, cover a very small area of the County.

Urban Water and Sanitation

There are no urban water and sanitation systems in the County. People use water from the pumps, wells and rain. Meanwhile, UN Agencies, NGOs and bilateral donors are carrying out water and sanitation projects across the County. For example, UNHCR has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with LUSH for the construction, renovation, rehabilitation and or installation of twenty eight wells/hand pumps and 10 institutional latrines in Bong County.

Public Enterprises

Prior to the civil unrest in Liberia, the socio-economic life/activities of Bong County were highly encouraging and promising. As such, every sector of the economic was booming and active. After Montserrado County, Bong was the only County that had so many investment activities taking place simultaneously, because of the healthy economic climate in the County at that time; people from other parts of the country came here to seek employment opportunities.

Those projects and institutions that were providing employment opportunities in Bong County are as follows:

a) Bong Mining Company (BMC) (Iron Ore Industry)
b) Bong County Agriculture Development Project (BCADP)
c) The Center for Agriculture Research Institute (CARI)
d) Small Holders Rice Project (SHRP)
e) Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC)
f) Liberia Rubber Development Unit (LRDU)
g) Rubber Corporation of Liberia (RCI)
h) Liberia Telecommunication Corporation (LTC)
i) Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC)
j) Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing
k) Cuttington Universtiy College (CUC)
l) Gold Mining (small scale)
m) Diamond Mining (small scale)
n) Logging Industry
o) Merchandising Business
p) Self employment and petty trading, cash crops production, etc.

These projects and institutions were catering to about 25 percent of the total workforce of Bong County. As a direct consequence of the viable economic condition of the County, the monthly revenues intake of Government was very high. Government was then in the position to finance basic social services such as pipe-borne water, electricity, education and health care to the citizens through the revenue realized. Owing to the 14 years devastating war which affected every fabric of the society, the operations of these viable entities were completely halted, thus leaving the citizens too vulnerable and economically devastated to sustain themselves.

Images of Civil Administration Building

Civil Administration Building – BEFORE!

Civil Administration Building – AFTER


A Profile


Nimba county is located in the Northeast of Liberia that shares a border with the Republic of Cote d’ Ivoire on the east, and the Republic of Guinea on the Northwest. It has a distance of 298 kms from Monrovia to Sanniquellie, passing through Margibi and Bong counties. Nimba was declared as a county (along with 3 others districts - Bong, Lofa, and Grand Gedeh), during the Tubman administration on July 26, 1964; with Sanniquellie City as the capital. Geographically, it has six (6) cities – Sanniquellie, Ganta, Karnplay, Bhan, Saclepea, and Tappita, as created by the Acts of the National Legislature.

The county was among the worst affected by the civil war, its population was severely
decimated and its infrastructure massively devastated by the war. Most of its citizens who survived the calamity were forced to seek asylum in the neighboring countries of the Republic of Guinea and the Cote d’ Ivoire while others became internally displaced. With the arrival of UNMIL Peace Keeping Forces in Liberia, consequently the deployment of Bangladeshi Force, the security situation narrowed down, population is gradually returning in the county. Small commercial stores had gradually started mushrooming in the cities of Ganta, Sanniquellie, Saglipie (Saclepea), and Tappita.


Nimba is an active county in Liberia’s political scene. General Thomas Queewonkpah, a son of Nimba County, played a very active role in the April 12, 1980 coup d’etat that brought down the True Whig Party Government of former President Tolbert, and ushered in the Peoples Redemptions Council (PRC) Government. After the coup, Gen. Thomas Queewonkpah became the Commanding General of the Liberian Army. He maintained the position until 1983, when he was offered the position of Secretary General of the PRC and was transferred to the Capitol Building. He rejected the offer and resigned from the Liberian Army.

During the National and Presidential election of October 15, 1985, Nimba produced the standard bearer for the Liberia Action Party (LAP), headed by H.E. Jackson F. Doe, who was widely believed to have won the Presidential election. However, Samuel K. Doe was declared as the winner making him the first President of the Republic.

After the Presidential and National election in 1985, Gen. Thomas Queewonkpah led an attempt to oust the PRC government of Samuel K. Doe in November 1986. The failed attempt exposed Nimba County and its citizenry to killing and massacre by government troops. Most of the combatants and civilians who took part in the failed coup attempt went into exile to neighboring countries.

The government initiated a peace process but did not succeed, which consequently widened ethnic divisions among Gios and Manos of Nimba and Krahns of Grand Gedeh.

Meanwhile, most of the exiled Liberians, including those from Nimba, were recruited and trained for guerilla warfare in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya. They later on came back to launch an attack in Liberia through Butuo, a border town in Nimba County, on December 24, 1989. Government’s reprisal against Nimba people in Nimba County and elsewhere in Liberia prompted the youths of Nimba to join the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) group led by Charles Taylor. The civil war lasted for seven (7) years (from December 24, 1989 to April 1996). A national and presidential election took place in July 1997 and Charles Taylor was declared a winner of the election. He was forced into exile in July 2003, and was succeeded by Moses Blah, who served the shortest term as President in Liberian History (August 11– October 14, 2003) before handing over to Transitional Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant.

Ethnic Composition

There are five (5) ethnic groups in Nimba County namely: Mano, Dan/Gio, Gbi, Krahn, and Mandingo. The Manos are predominant in the northwestern part of the county (i.e. Sanniquellie Mah, Saclepea Mah, and Yarwin Mensonnoh). Dan/Gios are predominant in the northeastern and central part (i.e.Tappita, Zoe Geh, and Gbehlay Geh); Krahns and Gbis are on the southeast along the boundary with Cote d’Ivoire (i.e. Tappita statutory district). Krahns are particularly found in Kpablee, part of Tappita’s statutory district. Mandingos are sparsely spread over the county, particularly in the commercial centres (like Ganta, Sanniquellie, Kahnplay, Bahn, Saclepea, and Tappita).


Before the civil conflict, Nimba was the second most populous county in the Republic of Liberia next to Montserrado county.

Population Distribution of Nimba County
District 1984 Census Report Estimated Population based on 1984 report, Ministry of Planning, 2004 Remarks
Sanniquellie- Meh 1,07,066 1,32,059
Zoe-Geh 75,965 78,762
Gberlay- Geh 70,459 65,640 The reason of decreased population is, after war many people moved to Monrovia.
Tappita 63,399 62,913 - do -
Saclepea- Mah 46,337 73,141 - do -
Yarwin – Mehnsonnoh 15,995 19,458 - do -
Total 3,79,221 4,31,973


Due to its unique geographic location on the border with Ivory Coast and Guinea, the county witnesses an unusual population movement across the borders on a daily basis. This, in turn, constitutes a major security concern to the county in particular and the country in general. The proximity of Nimba to these trouble spots such as Cote d’Ivoire, however, has increased the possibility of cross-border recruitment activity. Furthermore, the county has the highest concentration of ex-combatants outside of Monrovia. Over ten thousand ex-combatants of Government of Liberia (GOL) were disarmed in Ganta alone. This figure does not include Nimba citizens that were disarmed elsewhere and have returned home afterward. Most of those returnees have settled in Ganta, there are several ghettos in which drug dealing and illegal activities are taking place.

Public Sector Capacity

Nimba county was originally divided into six (6) administrative districts: Sanniquellie Mah, Tappita, Gbehlay Geh, Zoe Geh, Saclepea, and Yarwin Mennsonon. However, during the Taylor Administration, the citizens of Nimba County (which is the second largest populated county according to the 1984 census in Liberia) petitioned their representatives to enact laws for the creation of additional clans, chiefdoms, administrative and statutory districts. This petition passed into Law by the 52nd National Legislature, creating the statutory districts of Sanniquellie – Mah, Gbehlay Geh, Tappita, Zoe – Geh, and Saclepea – Mah. Yarwin Mensonnoh remained the only county district of Nimba.

Hon. Gabriel G. Farngalo was the first Superintendent of Nimba, followed by 15 others, including the incumbent Superintendent, Hon. Harrison S. Karnwea Sr.

Local Government

The basic unit of local Government is the town Chief. There are Clan Chiefs and Paramount Chiefs. At present Nimba County has five statutory districts, 17 Administrative districts, 34 Chiefdoms, 73 Clans, 24 Townships and six cities. Moreover, the county has several Zones and Towns. Every district has an appointed District Commissioner with Paramount Chiefs, Clan Chiefs and Town Chiefs. Every city has an appointed City Mayor with a City Council and a Governor.


Presently there are no national radio stations working in the county. The county has a few private local radio stations which are broadcasting locally in Sanniquellie, Ganta, Bahn and Saclepea. There is no local newspaper in the county. The UNMIL radio programme is not accessible to all the areas in the county.


Health and Nutrition

Generally, the health and sanitation situation in the county is considerably poor. Fever, diarrhoea, upper respiratory tract Infection, and malaria are the main diseases affecting the population, especially children. There are also cases of peptic dyspepsia, urinary tract infection, and sexually transmitted diseases. Malnutrition is prevalent especially among children and pregnant women. Despite the presence of International NGOs providing health care among the populace, these health care services do not reach the remote areas of the county. The establishment of more public health centres particularly in areas rarely accessible by vehicle is necessary.

There are actually medical facilities in almost all the major towns and villages in the county. Ganta has the Methodist Hospital which is the major referral hospital in the county; Sanniquellie has the G.W. Harley public hospital; Yekepa has the Lamco medical centre; and Tappita has the largest hospital which never became operational due to major damage and looting caused by the civil conflict.

Other crucial recommendations:

a. Proper training of Health Staff;
b. Equipping hospitals, health centres and health clinics with proper medicine, medical staff/personnel, and medical facilities;
c. There is also an urgent need for more Rehabilitation Centre and/or outpatient centres of contagious and highly transferable ailments such as tuberculosis and HIV before suspected cases spread these diseases.
d. Construction of Clinics or Health Centres in remote areas.


Among the 172 functioning schools, 42% are classified as Public Schools, while 58% are classified as either Mission or Private Schools. As of March 2005, there are an estimated number of 41,673 pupils and students attending schools in Nimba County. Forty-four percent (44%) of the total enrolees are in government or public institutions, while fifty-six percent (56%) are recorded to be in mission or private schools.

Location Primary/ Elementary High School Colleges/ Vocational/ Technical Number Of Students
Ganta 47 8 nil 8,782
Loguatu 27 6 nil 10,330
Sanniquellie 27 5 nil 7,719
Yekepa 11 3 01 2,606

Saclepea/ Saglipie
Baila 15 2 nil 4,576

In general, the condition of schools particularly government institutions are satisfactory. However, lack of school furniture such as desks and chairs for students, black boards, books, visual aids, and lack of qualified teachers is severe in every school.


Nimba land is blessed with gold and diamond; diamond is mined in the area between Sanniquellie and Yekepa, some part of Gbehlay, Geh, along the Yar River - bank from Zor Gowee to Yarsonnoh, as well as in Zoe-Geh district. Gold is found in Tappita area and other places of Nimba. Lamco J.V. Operating Company. Located at Yekepa, northern tip of Nimba, along the boundary with Guinea and Republic of Ivory Coast, Liminco is the largest iron ore mining company in the country,. The mining area was connected with the Port of Buchanan by railroad, which is not functional at present.


Farming is generally is the main means of livelihood and source of income of the Nimba population. The main produces are rice, cassava, plantain, banana, yam, and sweet potatoes; for family consumption and the market. Cash crop production of rubber trees, cocoa, and coffee is the other main source of income in the county. Rubber production is becoming the most attractive venture for cash crop farming. Apart from small agricultural projects undertaken by some NGOs such as LICP and ARS, there is no large scale farming in the county. However, FAO is assessing the possibility of extending its program in the county.


Since the county is far from the coastal area, residents depend on the river and jungle fishing for their diet and marketing.


At present there is no power generation and distribution in the public sector. The County has one generator in Sanniquellie and another in Ganta. Both are damaged and not operational.


There is no public transport operating in Nimba County. Many private sector transport companies are operational both for passengers and transport of commercial and agricultural goods. Road conditions in the different districts of Nimba County are rough, though accessible. BANBAT Engineering is currently working on the road linking Ganta with Zwedru, to be followed by Ganta - Sanniquillie road. However, almost all the feeder roads become inaccessible during the rainy season. The main and feeder roads in the county are shown in


The telecommunication sector was damaged during the war. After the war this sector has not been restored. Public telephone offices are not functional. But telephone frequency towers and other infrastructures are standing there. A few cell phone companies have extended their connectivity and GSM is now working in Ganta only. No other area in the county is under mobile connectivity presently.

Urban Water and Sanitation

Urban community based water and sanitation facilities are in a perilous state of repair, a direct result of a long-term poor management of resources and increasing demand of urban facilities. Water Reservoirs are damaged. Large numbers of wells are operational in the public sector for drinking water. Many NGOs are working in this sector and have achieved remarkable results. Many public latrines have been erected in the main urban areas, but there are no ongoing programmes for the repair of water reservoirs or for sanitation and garages disposal.

Public Enterprises

A few public enterprises such as Revenue Collection Agencies, Mining agencies, Commerce and Industry, Business organizations – Federal of Driver’s Union, Liberia Marketing Association and Liberia Tailors Union that are functional.

Forestry, Extractive industries and management of natural resources

The County is rich in forestry resources. There is a National Forest Reserve in the county controlled by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA). FDA has assigned forest guards to prevent the illegal extraction of logs, killing of some identified animals in reserved forest regions. There is no local timber extractive industry. Timber is logged by the local people and send to Monrovia. Timber logging and charcoal production used to be one of the main sources of cash revenue for people and government in the county, which has caused depletion of forestry resources. However, Tappita and some parts of Sanniquellie area are still having some rich forest.


A Profile


Margibi County is one of the most important counties in the country for its revenue- generation and for its educational facilities.

The County has the most important rubber plantations in the country such as the Firestone Plantation Company, the Salala Plantation and the Weala Plantation. In the education sector alike, the County is important for its institutions such as the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) known for its vocational training courses, and the Konola Academy, a co-educational institution, as a prestigious upper secondary school.

However, 14 years of civil conflict had devastated every sector, leaving lives and properties damaged, especially the public facilities/infrastructure that were destroyed or taken away completely. As a result, many communities today lack basic necessities of life which makes it difficult for the returnees and the inhabitants to facilitate the reintegration programmes.


Margibi was founded in 1984 when two districts (Marshall District and Gibi District) were removed from Montserrado County to form the 13th county, Margibi -- named after the two districts combined (Mar from Marshall District and Gibi from Gibi District).

Margibi is bordered by Grand Basa County on the south, Montserrado County on the north, Bong County in the west and Bomi County in the east. Today, the County has ten sub-political divisions (See Tables 1 and 2), which includes two districts (Gibi and Mambahn-Kabah) two cities (Kakata and Marshall) and six townships (Cinta, Borlorla, Larkayta, Schiefflin, Charlesville and Lloydesville).

In the political structure of the County, a superintendent heads the hierarchy of administrative officers; mayors head the cities and commissioners head the townships and districts. According to the census done in 2000 by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs (MPEA), the County has at present an estimated population of 224, 418. It had a pre-war population of over 345,000 people. Two of the sixteen ethnic groups living in Liberia are present in the County. They are Bassa and Kpelle ethnic groups. According to a rough estimate, about 90 percent of the county population are Christians, 5 percent are Muslims and approximately 5 percent are animist.
Public Sector Capacity

The public sector capacity is poor in Margibi. The main problem is the central government’s lack of assistance with regard to an earmarked budget, and revenue collection for the County. In theory, with three rubber plantations in the County, the local government should have a tax income collected from the plantations which is paid to the central government. Unfortunately, nothing from this trickles down to the County, and the plantations refused to pay the local government any dues on the ground that they already pay a huge amount to the central government.

However, in terms of deployment of manpower, the central government has been more helpful by providing representatives of line ministries all of whom reside in the County. In this connection, there are nine ministries represented. They are: Agriculture, Health, Justice, Finance, Commerce, Gender, Internal Affairs, Land and Mines and Youth and Sports.


Margibi has access to Harbel FM radio, Kakata Radio, Radio Veritas, Liberian Broadcasting Corporation (ELBC- a government radio) and UNMIL radio.


Health and Nutrition

There are two main functional government hospitals serving the County: C.H Rennies Hospital, a referral in Kakata (Upper Margibi County) and Mike M. Baydoun Health Centre in Marshall City (Lower Margibi County). Both medical facilities need renovation and supplies for full operation. For example, Rennie Hospital has an ambulance wasting at the hospital due to lack of spare parts. A letter has been sent to UNDP (donor of the car) for assistance and also to World Health Organization for any help and supplies. The problem of Mike Baydoun HC in Marshall City is the lack of proper supervision from the Health Ministry. The hospital has a huge generator that can supply the centre and the whole city. What is lacking is who is going to buy fuel to power the generator. An idea was proposed by CA to the Ministry of Health to wire the city for the citizens to pay electricity bill and use the proceeds to buy fuel for the generator. Nothing has come out of that idea.

Apart from the two government hospitals, there are three private clinics/primary health centres; namely, Borcollah, Madina and City Clinics, all in Kakata. A polio immunization programme was launched in the county and according to information reaching our news room from the county health officials; almost 98 percent of the children have been vaccinated. Hygiene promotion is being done by women and youth groups under the supervision of county primary health workers to control diseases. HIV/AIDS campaign is visible around all the public and private buildings across the county. LNRC is presently providing services in the areas of dissemination under the international humanitarian laws, health preventive treatment at the Madina clinic in Kakata, HIV/AIDS awareness operating in ten communities in Kakata district and is also involved in family tracing, first aid and food security.


There are 17 government primary schools in Margibi County and six private schools. The number of government secondary schools, private secondary schools and vocational/technical schools is 16, five and six respectively. In addition to these, there are two higher institutions of learning – namely the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) that awards degrees and the Kakata Rural Teacher Training (KRTT). UNMIL Quick Impact renovated more than 10 of the schools mentioned and supplied computers, printers and furniture.
Community Water and Sanitation (WATSAN)

Among all the construction and developments in Margibi County, WATSAN is the most progressive and successful area of development, with a number of hand pumps and VIP latrines operating in the County. ZOA Refugee Care has built over 30 latrines across the County.

Margibi County does not have a pipe-borne water supply system. But there are enough hand pumps and VIP 4 access latrines with hand washing facilities. These facilities were provided mainly by European Commission, ZOA, UNDP, and LTI, among others.



The agriculture-based productive capacity in the county is below average. There are mixed farming activities and about 80 percent are subsistence farming, growing mostly cassava, potatoes, plantain and, in some areas, rice. An NGO, CRS, is at the forefront in the county. The NGO is supplying free crop seeds to the farmers. The seeds include rice, groundnuts and corn.


UNHCR conducted a feasibility study to restore production capacity of the fishing industry in Marshall City. The inability of the Ministry of Agriculture (Fishery) to set a policy line regarding how much income or other taxes the fishermen should pay is slowing the process. Also, the majority of the fishermen in the county are West African citizens and the government is demanding both working and residence permits before they can work, even though, the majority of the them were born and spent all their lives here before and during the war. This trend of impediments is almost common around all the fishing towns and cities across the country.

Community Development

The citizens of Margibi are engaged in a lot of self-help education to promote community development. Most of the developments consist of basic skill training in WATSAN, agriculture, and tie/dye, soap making and construction. These activities are being led by local NGOs with funding from their international counterparts.


The European Union has been funding expert studies in the energy sector in Margibi County since last year but nothing has been done in practice. Also the World Bank conducted a workshop involving all stakeholders exploring issues surrounding the ‘selling’ of electricity to the county this year in Kakata.

There is no grid-based source of power in Margibi County. The only source of power is individual generators including schools, hospitals, etc.


The transport union in the County is owned by individuals, but it is very effective in its operations. There are elected officials overseeing the union’s daily business. The Ministry of Rural Development and CA carry out joint assessment of roads and bridges in various areas throughout the county. Most civil reconstruction in the county is in good shape except that of three major bridges in the County. The reconstruction by Pakistan Engineers of the Borlolah Bridge is awaiting approval from the UNMIL Force Commander. The repair of Kabbah Bridge is under consideration by UNDP for financial assistance. Finally, a part of a bridge leading to Llyodsville Township near RIA needs to be repaired or improved by constructing a simple four culverts mould over the river.


As in elsewhere in Liberia, there is no government telecommunication landline network. However, the privately-owned GSM firms LoneStar and Comium have extended their services to the county.

Urban Water and Sanitation

UNMIL in collaboration with UNCEF carried out feasibility studies to determine serviceable water and sanitation in the County. Already QIP has paid more than $5,000.00 towards the collection and disposal of refuse/garbage from Kakata City. At the moment, the only serviceable water is the hand pump described under sub-section 6.3.
Public Enterprises

To provide electricity for the County, the World Bank has completed an assessment to provide two generators.
Forestry, Extractive Industries and Management of Natural Resources

In Forestry, Margibi is the most important County in Liberia as it hosts three rubber plantations -- Weala, Salala and Firestone. The Firestone Rubber Plantation is the largest and the oldest in the County and in the country. However, as explained earlier, Margibi does get any monetary benefits from the presence of the rubber plantations at present. And, in terms of employment too the County benefits to some extent only as the employees of the rubber plantations are not just from Margibi but from all over Liberia.

With regard to forestry, illegal pit sowing (people cutting down trees illegally to sell the logs) from community forests is a major problem in the County as this is leading to deforestation.

Another environmental problem is the dumping of waste matter by the rubber companies. For example, the Weala Rubber Company dumps its waste in the Wea River and Firestone dumps its waste in the Farmington River. This creates a major hazard to marine life in those rivers.

In the extractive industry, there is small scale diamond mining still in operation, mainly in the Kakata area, but the County authorities have no statistics on this.

Facts about Liberia

Although we are going to be working in Margibi, Bong, and Nimba counties, this information is relevant and applies to the entire country.

With the approach of the rainy season in a month's time, concerns are growing about the condition of roads and of accessibility to rural communities in many parts of rural Liberia. During the rainy season, poor road condition hampers mobility and road travel, cuts off large parts of rural Liberia, and prevents humanitarian and development agencies from accessing people in these communities.

There is an estimated 10,600 km of major roadways in Liberia. Of these, 657 km are paved and 9,943 km are unpaved. Fourteen years of war and crumbling road infrastructure led to a gradual reduction in the number of paved roads. The paucity of data on the status of roads and bridges in the country poses a difficulty in determining where the greatest needs lie. Moreover, most road rehabilitation projects in the past involved only the side brushing or grading of roads. As such, a road that is rehabilitated in the dry season may deteriorate during the next rainy season, thereby removing it from the list of roads that were in good condition a few months back.

Parts of the country most affected by lack of road infrastructure are Lofa and Gbarpolu Counties (in the northwest) and Grand Kru, Rivercess, River Gee and Sinoe Counties (in the southeast). Three of the six districts in Lofa County were inaccessible by car during the peak of the rainy season in 2006. In Gbarpolu County, Kongba and Belle-Fassama Districts were cut off from the county's two other districts (i.e. Bopolu and Gbarma). In Grand Kru, the entire county, save parts of Lower Kru Coast District, was inaccessible year-round. Over half of the land area of River Gee, Sinoe and Rivercess Counties were disconnected from the rest of the country by poor roads and bridges during the 2006 rainy season.

Many communities in Liberia are 'underserved' because of their lack of road infrastructure, which hampers access for humanitarian and development actors. Particularly, in the southeast of Liberia, communities lag behind in terms of access to healthcare, education, safe drinking water, improved hygiene and other facilities. For example, according to the Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey (CFSNS, 2006), in relatively accessible Bong and Grand Cape Mount Counties, access to improved water sources is 41% and 43%, respectively. In less accessible Grand Kru and Rivercess Counties, only 7% and 22% of people, respectively, have access to safe drinking water. The differentials in the indicators for health, education and food production indicate a strong relationship between road access and levels of service provision.

The most sustainable remedy to the current poor road conditions in Liberia is the construction of paved roads. However, the Government of Liberia and its partners cannot presently afford this huge investment. They are instead concentrating on the maintenance and repair of tarmac roads, grading and side-brushing of unpaved roads, and repair/construction of bridges along the roads that are being rehabilitated.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another New Project in Nepal and Other News!

Things are finally moving along with Girls Ed (and rather quickly). We've partnered up with a variety of NGOs in order to get our projects going, and we've got three new projects in addition to the Khane girls' school renovation project. Heidi and I are incredibly excited and meet once or twice per week. Here's a summary of what we are up to:

1. We are planning a variety of fund raisers including a wine and cheese dance party at the Trilogy in Boulder; a BBQ fund raiser, with music by Sengalese musician Justin Faye, and slide show (hopefully with Pete Takeda) at the Hanger Restaurant in Estes Park; a wine and cheese art show with music by a local Salt Lake City musician during the summer Outdoor Retailer Trade Show; and potentially a few other dance parties. We're also interested in having fund raisers in Crested Butte, CO, and Sun Valley, Idaho.

2. We've partnered up with Mountain2Mountain and will be doing some joint fund raisers with them in 2009. They also may co-sponsor our event at the OR show.

3. We've solidified our relationships with The CARE Foundation, Pakistan, and are currently working out the details for not one, but two projects in Pakistan. We plan on trying to get some of the renovations to the Khane school finished this year, and we hope to build a school for girls in the village of Khanday, which is in the same valley, Hushe.

4. We are working out the details for our relationship with Common Ground Society in Liberia. We decided that in order to adhere to our mission we are going to work exclusively in the northern, mountainous regions of Liberia, including Bong and Nimba counties. We will start by providing 25 girls with scholarships. It should cost approximately $3000.

5. We are partnering up with The Mountain Fund and the Nepali NGO, Empowering the Women of Nepal, to support and promote their project, Child Labor Rescue. We hope to Girls Education International has recently partnered with the Nepali NGO, Empowering the Women of Nepal, to support and promote their Child Labor Rescue program. The Mountain Fund will be organizing a Trek4Good that will take people on a tour to the Annapurna region of Nepal, utilizing local guides from the 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking company. The trek will embark November 1st and end November 15th. Part of the money participants spend on the trip will go directly to the school. More information will be made available over the next few weeks.

It costs $600 to house and educate one girl each year. We are hoping to encourage people to support/sponsor individual girls in the school. We plan on providing our sponsors with photographs, a status report of their girl’s progress, and letters from that girl.

The Child Labor Rescue Program
The mission of the Child Labor Rescue program is to declare the Annapurna Trekking Route as a child labor free trekking route. The aims and objectives of the program are to provide help and support for children rescued from child labor and to stop child labor practices by involving local community leaders and government. EWN hopes to do this by educating the community about the negative impact of child labor on tourism and also identifying working children who can either be returned to their families or given shelter at EWN’s children’s home in Pokhara.

Girls Education International seeks raise funds to provide the $600 scholarships to as many girls as possible. We hope to inspire individuals to sponsor new students, and we plan on expanding the program.


In the sparsely populated region of Mustang, Nepal, 20,000 inhabitants live and work along the Annapurna Trekking Route. Tourism hugely boosts the economy of the area, and family-run restaurants and hotels cater to both international and national visitors.

Unfortunately, to assist in their business and household chores the majority of hotels, restaurants and domestic homes use child labor. Most of the children are brought from the poor settlement areas of Pokhara Municipality.

On a visit to the Mustang area in 2006, Empowering Women of Nepal spoke to many of these children. Most of the children told how their parents were not able to provide them with food, education and care and sent them to this hard place with the assumption that their children would get such things from their employers. Many children explained how they had been sold by their parents for money. Most of them are deprived of education and health care. Physical and verbal abuse is common and they are also very vulnerable to sexual abuse. They normally work more than 15 hours a day, starting early in the morning and working until late at night. Their hands and feet are swollen and bloody. They look very dirty and smell and it seems they have not washed for months. A child worker complained that even at night her employers locked her inside the room, fearing that she might run away.

Child labor restricts children’s potential to become productive adults. It deprives them of good health, education and takes away their future. It is an affront to social justice. Child labor is prohibited by the government of Nepal.