Liberia is a West African country that emerged from prolonged civil war. Expectedly, the social and economic well-being of people was grossly affected during the crisis. After the war and return to democratic rule in 2005, the country has since been on the march towards economic recovery, revamping of public infrastructure and stabilizing the security situation. On the invitation of International Budget Partnership [IBP] and International Human Rights Internship Program [IHRIP] for budget training, I was in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia from July 3 to July 14, 2011. This text contains my view, as an observer, on the scope and framework of housing and urban development in post conflict Liberia.
Liberia is a country of about 3.6 million people with a total area of 111, 369 km2 out of which 96,320 sq km representing 87% is land and the remaining 13% is made up of water bodies. The annual population growth rate is 2.7% with almost half of the country’s population [1.7 million] residing in the capital city, Monrovia. The topography in the capital city is undulating with some sections rising more than 50 meters above sea level while some are about 1 meter below the sea level.
Mining plays a significant role in the Liberian economy accounting for about 30% of gross domestic product and averaging 68% of foreign exchange earnings. Forests cover nearly half the land in Liberia and are a critical natural resource, although their full economic potential has never been realized.
Agriculture contributes to over 70% of the GDP. Rubber is the second most exported foreign exchange earning cash crop. Processing takes place only to the extent needed for overseas transport. As at 2009, Liberia Gross National Income per capita was $160, ranking 212 out of the 213 countries in the world. It has 7.4% estimated average inflation rate with 63.8% of the population living on less than $1 per day.
Founded in 1822, Monrovia is named in honor of former U.S. President James Monroe, a prominent supporter of the colonization of Liberia. The city’s economy is dominated by its harbor, and government offices.
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