Picking up the pieces: Liberia’s peacebuilding efforts post-Ebola

Picking up the pieces: Liberia’s peacebuilding efforts post-Ebola

Liberia is at a critical juncture in terms of its ability to maintain its hard-won peace and ensure that its reconciliation and sustainable development efforts are not derailed. The West African country, with a population of 3.124 million, celebrated ten years of peace in 2013, following brutal civil war (1989−97 and 1999−2003) that resulted in the loss of over 200 000 lives, displacement of over one million people, destruction of livelihoods and paralysis of governance structures. Starting in 2009, Liberia began to take important steps to rebuild relationships, reconcile divided communities, rejuvenate institutions and structures, and set a progressive agenda for economic growth and development. Efforts to decentralise governance and social services, and to ensure citizens’ enjoyment of security and stability were integral to moving the country forward. The March 2014 Ebola outbreak severely affected peacebuilding work and threatened to undo progress made during the previous six years. During the epidemic, approximately 10,564 Ebola cases were reported and 4 716 people confi rmed dead.

This Policy & Practice Brief (PPB) argues that the crisis which resulted was not a health emergency, peacebuilding issue or development challenge alone; it is related to all three fields and, in Liberia specifically, should be viewed as interlinked. It maintains that divisions between the peacebuilding and development sectors and their objectives are increasingly being closed, and that the challenges raised by, and responses to the Ebola crisis illustrate this well. The brief analyses key challenges facing the nation, and provides recommendations on the way forward in advancing the country’s sustainable development, peacebuilding and health systems strengthening agendas. It is hoped that these ideas will be useful to the work of Liberian and international peacebuilding actors alike.

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