Over the past five years, TrustAfrica has provided critical support for Liberian civil society organizations engaged in pro-poor policy advocacy. Support has included organizing national policy convenings as well as providing technical assistance and flexible grant-making, with more than 50 grants for groups seeking to advance democracy, human rights and media development.
Now in its third phase, the initiative is focused on harnessing civil society’s collective voices to monitor the lucrative extractives industry in Liberia.
Over the last ten years of peace, the Liberian government has attracted an estimated US$19 billion in foreign direct investment mainly from natural resources extraction. While some progress has been made by the state, affected communities continue to decry the slow or negligible benefits they receive from the exploitation of their communal lands. This has led to continuing community discontent and communal violence around concession areas.
Activities of the initiative focus on providing partners with the resources to enable ordinary citizens to campaign for their rights and benefits while conducting advocacy with high-level government officials and institutions. The aim is to create a workable framework for channelling community feedback on concession conflicts and violations to the Liberian government.
Local partners include the Liberia Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative, Publish What You Pay Liberia and the Liberia Peace Building Office. In addition, we have vigorously engaged the Liberian government through the National Investment Commission, the National Bureau of Concessions and the Forestry Development Authority.
The Concessions Working Group (CWG), our diverse coalition of international and local actors working on the extractives sector, serves as a clearinghouse for ongoing discussions and advocacy on natural resource governance within Liberia. It has also launched several advocacy campaigns against human rights violations of ordinary citizens in concession areas and given community feedback to the Independent National Human Rights Commission of Liberia and is considered as a community of practice on natural resource governance in Liberia.
We have also aired civil society’s positions on current concessions agreements at high-level meetings with the Liberian legislature. As the country heads toward elections in 2017, we will pursue the development and adoption of a natural resource manifesto or agenda by political actors.
Local actors in Liberia now have access to more reliable and rigorous governance and concessions data with our geo-spatial map of Liberian concession agreements which was developed by Aiddata, one of our international partners.