Liberia’s first fragility assessment in 2012 came on the heels of a painstaking but steady transition from conflict to peace after many years of a debilitating war. Before then, the country had had two elections and was gradually proceeding with a reform agenda aimed at fostering democracy, promoting developing and upholding the peace. Since 2012, much of the reform and rebuilding has been consolidated with significant progress made. The Liberian economy, until the Ebola outbreak in 2014, was growing at a rate of about 7 percent mainly as a result of commodity extraction. In addition, the country has had several initiatives to improve institutions and governance in general, and promote peacebuilding. In 2017, a third successive election after the war was held. While there were tensions in several concessions areas in the country during this period, the peace has largely been maintained.
Meanwhile, the state of peace is believed by some to be “negative peace” – and therefore threatened – with many of the pre- war fissures still in place as a result of unmet public expectations for improved social and economic conditions. Growth spurred by commodity export has been unequal, with much not particularly ploughed back to the delivery of service and other political goods. Also, prospects from a reported US$ 19billion worth of potential concession investments in the past 12 years fell through. These and many more resulted in public criticisms, increased citizens’ mistrust of the government and limited collaboration, thus sowing seeds of conflict that could undermine peace and security and stymied development efforts.
Derived from the application of principles and processes of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, a second fragility assessment was therefore commissioned not only to evaluate the country’s state of fragility – in a “self-assessment process” such as the extent to which it is able to withstand internal and external shocks and avoid a reversal to conflict – but to also provide the basis for a successor development framework to the Agenda for Transformation (AfT). This report is the product of the second assessment and captures results indicating the extent to which the country has come since the last assessment in 2012 in progressing from fragility to resilience.
The results of the second assessment show that the country has continued on the path of progress, benefiting particularly from the reform process instituted since democratic rule was restored after years of war. While the jolt from the Ebola crisis and the plunge in the prince of Liberia’s export earners threatened peace and security, curtailed the provisions of essential service and undermined national stability, the country has remained steady for the most part. State rebuilding process and peacebuilding efforts, although generally not at optimum levels, have helped to improve the country’s democratic processes and strengthened institutions, moving it to the transitions stage, thus increasing opportunities and the sources of resilience.
The methodology employed for this assessment is based on the New Deal Fragility Assessment Guidance Note. Unlike the 2012 fragility assessment, this year’s assessment combined the review of relevant Government of Liberia and other external assessment reports in related areas of the PSGs with a nation-wide consultation process. The first fragility assessment excluded the latter process by focusing primarily or solely on gathering information from these secondary sources. This second assessment benefited from the key component of stakeholder consultation to garner the reflections of practitioners and citizens across the country. More than a participatory and inclusive process, the consultations allowed citizens, who themselves have been impacted by the post war statebuildin and peacebuilding process, to reflect on the causes of fragility, assess progress made and the opportunities for resilience, challenges, as well as propose priority actions to increase resilience. The results of their reflections and review of post war efforts at rebuilding the country, may significantly contribute to understanding where Liberia currently is or how far the country has progressed on the long road from fragility to resilience, and how they may help inform national planning process.