More than a decade since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Accra, Ghana, Liberia continues its long walk to restoration and reconciliation. Though Liberia has stayed relatively stable and peaceful in the post-conflict period, challenges remain. Many of the structural causes of the war persist, including political and economic elitism, powerful patronage networks, systemic and wide-ranging corruption and high levels of youth unemployment. The government is continuing to enact a number of reform initiatives to try to transform these structural conditions, including on-going efforts to reform the security sector, and the establishment of the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC). Across all of these areas, civil society is an evolving and important counterpart that can bring diverse voices to the table, as well as serve as a check on government power. New laws and policies have helped to boost the role of CSOs. Laws such as the Freedom of Information Act, passed in 2010, provide opportunities for CSOs to engage more with government.
It is within this context that Search for Common Ground-Liberia (SFCG-Liberia) and WACSI conducted a research study between June and November 2013 to assess the changing landscape for CSOs in Liberia. This study aims to capture the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, needs and challenges faced by CSOs, including community based organisations (CBOs), across Liberia.
The research commenced with desktop research and advisory group meetings to begin generating indicators and interview questions for key informant interviews. These would serve as the backbone of the research. Indicators and questions were then finalised and validated at the adaptation workshops.
Together with WACSI, SFCG-Liberia conducted 116 key informant interviews of individuals from 40 CSOs across 11 counties: Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Margibi, Montserrado, Nimba and Rivercess. Individuals interviewed included executive directors, finance managers, programme managers and volunteers. The data collected from the interviews were then transcribed and input into a database to facilitate analysis and enable disaggregation of the data based on location and other important qualifiers.