While working in the Ministry of Finance this summer, I helped coordinate the 2008 Liberia Poverty Reduction Forum (LPRF). The LPRF gave Liberia the chance to present its Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) to donors. The PRS is the document which will guide Liberia's development for the next 3 years and is organized around 4 major pillars: security, economic revitalization, governance and rule of law, and social sectors (health and education). The PRS was put together using a participatory process in which all Liberians, from men to women, youth to adults, and market women to Ministers in all regions-- and international partners had the opportunity to share their ideas and priorities for development with the Government of Liberia. In the PRS, the most important priority identified across the board was infrastructure which includes everything from roads, to bridges, ports, schools and health clinics. Infrastructure is central to development since it improves access to education, health, security and economic opportunities.The forum took place from June 26-27, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. Over 200 people attended as representatives from 60 delegations drawn from foreign governments, international organizations, multilateral banks, foundations and NGOs. The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development hosted the event, along with the World Bank serving as organizers. At the forum, the Liberia Government stressed the need to have donors align behind the priorities laid out in the PRS and work together to harmonize aid flows. The partners were pleased with the progress Liberia made over the past few years and endorse the PRS, but were reminded by the Government of Liberia that the country is still in a fragile state. Liberia is poised to become the shining example of reform, good governance and economic growth, but issues such as rising food and gasoline prices and the reintegration of thousands of refugees threaten peace.As explained in the communiquÃ©, Liberia currently has US$250-300 million pledged for the first year of PRS implementation. Liberiaâ€™s Infrastructure Trust Fund now stands at US$133 million. On top of this, the World Bank and African Development Bank have promised another $140 million for infrastructure financing over the three year PRS implementation period and a commitment of US$26 million for budget support. Many donors also took the chance to announce debt relief for Liberia and Germany signed a bilateral debt agreement with Liberia totaling US$400 million.*Thank you to InWent: Capacity Building International for letting us use their photographs!
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