The Monrovia Metropolitan Coastal Resilience Project (MMCRP) conducted its first community meeting on February 22nd, 2023 in West Point. Speaking at the meeting, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), encouraged residents of West Point to embrace the project and work closely with the project team and community leaders to ensure it is implemented successfully. He pointed out that the project is a key priority for the Government of Liberia, and will provide jobs to people in the community.
“This project is a key priority for the Government of Liberia as it will improve the lives of people in the four communities where it will be implemented by protecting our coastline and improving the livelihood of our people”, said Prof. Tarpeh.
Approximately 110 persons attended the meeting including staff of the EPA and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Commissioner of West Point, the project management unit, representatives from the Society for Conservation of Nature Liberia (SCNL), as well as residents of the community.
The key objectives of the community meeting were: to raise gender-sensitive awareness with a specific emphasis on the different impacts of climate change on men and women and their livelihoods, provide information on a range of potential adaptation practices, give an update on the progress of project implementation, and present members of the Community Stewardship Committee (CSC) and the Knowledge Sharing Group (KSG) to the community. Making remarks, Honorable William C. Wea, the Commissioner of West Point Township, thanked the community leaders attending the meeting and praised the Government of Liberia for making efforts to address sea erosion in the community.
“When the CDC came to power, one of President George Weah’s priorities was to control sea erosion in West Point. Since then, local authorities, community leaders, EPA, UNDP, and other government officials have been working to ensure this is achieved”, he said.
Mr. Moses Massah, Head of the Energy & Environment Unit at UNDP emphasized UNDP’s commitment to the implementation of the MMCRP and community development in the country.
“The project isn’t just about placing rocks along the coastline, it is about beautifying West Point, a modern coastline, serving as a tourist center and protecting our mangroves”, he said.
Mr. Massah also urged members of the CSC and KSG to work with the project team to manage and implement the project.
Serving as West Point’s focal person on the MMCRP and the coordinator of the Community Stewardship Committee (CSC) and Knowledge Sharing Groups (KSGs), Mr. Archie Cornelius Gbessay thanked the project for making community participation and ownership a priority. He promised that:
“The CSC and KSGs will work with the project team to promote gender equality, raise awareness on climate change and help protect the environment”.
The KSGs will promote community involvement and support in conducting awareness, and ensuring that the project builds the capacity of community members by enhancing their knowledge of climate change impacts and adaptation practices. The CSC will help manage and provide oversight of project activities in the communities. The meeting is the first of four meetings that will be held in all the project communities: West Point, Topoe Village, Jacobstown, and Fiamah & Plunkor.
A cross-section of community dwellers in attendance
Community members who attended the meeting expressed gratitude to the Government of Liberia and UNDP for making the project a reality.
“We are so happy that this project will help us and not harm us”, said Ma Marta, a fishmonger who resides and works in West Point.
Mr. Zienu Vamba Kanneh, the MMCRP Project Coordinator, thanked the residents of West Point for showing up for the community meeting and reassured the project’s team committed to ensuring that the project is implemented successfully.
The MMCRP’s main aim is to build the long-term climate resilience of coastal communities in Liberia by addressing immediate adaptation priorities and creating an enabling environment for upscaling coastal adaptation initiatives to other parts of Monrovia and Liberia. The project will benefit 250,000 people in West Point, Fiamah and Plunkor, Jacob’s Town, and Topoe Village.
It will enhance coastal protection, improve the protection of mangrove ecosystems, foster coastal management, and present local communities with diversified climate-resilient livelihoods. The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) is the Executing Entity for the MMCRP and it is financed by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of Liberia (GoL). The Society for the Conservation of Nature Liberia (SCNL) is working along with the MMCRP team and is responsible to design and distribute awareness-raising and communication materials to the project’s target areas.