Two posts, both authored by Blair Glencorse, a friend who runs the very innovative Accountability Lab. Both reflect on the state of Liberia's society a decade since the end of the conflict. At African Arguments, Blair talks about the scourge of corruption and impunity, a topic close to my heart, and outlines how the Accountability Lab's philosophy and work set out to combat these civil ills and build a more robust social contract. Blair boldly, and to my mind, rightly identifies corruption as the leading impairment to Liberia's progress.
"Liberia is still far from a well-functioning society with secure peace and sustainable development."
Secondly, on Devex, Blair looks at Liberia's aid dependency, and the massive volumes of direct and indirect foreign assistance Liberia and its government have achieved in the last ten years, and whether all those millions have translated into much in terms of substantial change among Liberia's citizens.
How can we square the amount of attention, resources and effort put into rebuilding Liberia with these conditions on the ground? At its heart, this is an accountability problem through which the Liberian government has become oriented not toward its citizens, but toward a well-meaning, generous but ineffective international community. While there are many truly excellent development workers in Liberia, they are operating within an outdated aid system that breeds dependency, undermines capacity and ignores sustainability. Well-qualified Liberians are drawn away from government or civil society positions by higher wages in donor organizations. Each of these entities has their own agenda, procedures, obligations, reporting methods, funding streams and target beneficiaries. The result in many cases is overlapping authorities, duplication of efforts and significant space for corruption.
Both are worth reading in their entirety, and the Accountability Lab is a great organization to follow.