By: Oretha Bundoo
Liberia-January 27, 2023: Over Three Thousands (3,000) single-mothers currently benefiting from the Beaches and Waterways project are calling for an increment of budgetary allotment for the project. The Beneficiaries are from West Point, New Kru Town, ELWA, Banjor-Hotel Africa, Sinkor, Congo Town, King Gray, and PHP respectively.
A total of amount of One (1) million has been allotted in the 2023 budget for the Project, but beneficiaries are requesting an increment to US$4 million.
The Reclaiming Liberia Beaches and Waterways Project, which is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) was established in 2011 during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to give a facelift to waterways and beaches in Liberia, and to help provide employment opportunities for scores of slum dwellers. The Project was pronounced closed on March 1, 2022 by Youth and Sports Minister Zoegar Wilson but recently the Government of Liberia under President Weah allotted 1 million in the 2023 budget for the project to resume in February. Earlier beneficiaries were voluntarily cleaning those beaches and waterways.
The volunteers/beneficiaries who are mostly women are complaining that the allotted amount is small to run the project for one year as such they are appealing for increment.
The beneficiaries claimed that the number of people on the project has increased, as such; income will reduce if the amount budgeted is not increased, which could hamper their survival.
Speaking in an interview with reporters on Thursday, January 26, 2023, beneficiaries mostly women/single mothers from the various communities expressed excitement that the project has commenced; something they noted will them fend for their children.
For Annie Nyantee, the project is very rewarding in that it enables her to provide education for her seven (7) children since its establishment in 2011 but she wants the government to redirect the project to the Liberia Maritime Authority instead of the Ministry of Youth and Sport because according to her, the Ministry is unable to implement the project as compared to the Maritime Authority.
Annie supported her assertion by noting that there were series of challenges confronting the handling of the project by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, ranging from delay in salaries up to four months and cuts in salaries as well.
Also 32 years old Bethverlyn Koon from the Borough of New Kru Town recounted that also she began benefiting from the project since 2014 and it has positively affected her life as a single-mother of two children.
Bethverlyn stated that she was able to take care of her children and send them to school but since the project was closed for 2 years her children drop out of school because of the lack of money.
She admitted that since the closure of the project things have not been for her but since the project is about to resume she is happy.
Veronica Doe, a single mother of West Point and one of the beneficiary lauded the government and at the same time her appeal to the government for salary increment. “Let them add our salary up because to clean feces is not an easy task so, this work we are doing is very huge and it is helping us and chloride is not killing us again. When we were not cleaning this place you and myself will not be able to stand her because the dirt mainly the feces. We are sending our children to school, paying rent through this work so we asking the government to help us especially Representative Dixon Sebo that is talking for us. Let President Weah come to our aid to add our salary up,” she said.
“We are begging the President and Representatives to help us and talk for us. We are also appealing to residents to please stop toileting on the beach, they should use the public toilet and not the beach again,” Tete Parleh, Beneficiary of West Point.
For or his part, the Project Supervisor of West Point Beach, Eric Kwahin mentioned that there has been an incremental level of people on the project because they were about 350 when they started but currently they are about 1017 persons in West Point. He emphasized that the project has help to reduce health conditions in the community and has also brought economic benefit to the people.
“When the project started people will work and get 70 USD at the end of the month and so it has been able to help families and then pay children school fees and take care of our different house rent out of this project but on the overall the level of sanitation it has brought to the community. West point has been one of the places that many people have always complain of being disease-pro but it will interest you to know that since the origin of this project the level of sanitary conditions in terms of how we been able to reduce malaria and diarrhea is unmeasurable,” he said.
In conclusion, Eric appealed to the government to be able to step the amount up so they can be able to recruit more people on the project.
West Point is one of the dense populated areas in Monrovia with lots of single mothers and vulnerable Youths.