Despite the many gains made in maintaining peace and security in Liberia since the end of the country’s 14-year civil war in 2003, many root causes of conflict remain unaddressed. Public institutional reforms are urgently required, while land disputes, corruption, boundary disputes and concession related tensions continue to be the main triggers of violence. The lives of many women are particularly insecure due to societal inequalities and sexual and gender-based violence, further weakening social cohesion in communities. Low commodity prices for primary exports and the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in 2014 limited economic growth, undermining high expectations around the speed of post-war recovery and the delivery of peace dividends.
In 2016 the United Nations Mission in Liberia and UNDP invited us to assess Liberia’s socio-political fragility in the context of the political transition process and the departure of UN peacekeeping forces, which had been the guarantors of stability for the previous decade. We used the SCORE index to measure social cohesion and resilience capacities in local communities to prevent conflict. Working with the Liberia Peace Building Office and the UN system we provided predictive assessments of strategic peacebuilding interventions that held the greatest potential for sustaining peace at a time of declining peace and development resources. The SCORE assessment was repeated in 2018 and the results from our work has been used to guide the design the Government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
We are working with Liberian Government agencies, civil society organisations, UN organisations and the international community to internalize the SCORE results and translate them into robust policies which will strengthen evidence-based systems of non-violent conflict management, and promote inclusive economic growth and resilience. This includes training government officials in our evidence-based methodology, allowing Liberian experts to design and implement future social cohesion and reconciliation assessments.