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Economic Literacy and Budget Accountability for Governance training sharpens the minds of young people to hold the duty bearers in Liberia accountable

It is less than seven months before Liberia’s national elections occur. ActionAid Liberia (AAL) has concluded a month-long Economic Literacy and Budgeting Accountability for Governance (ELBAG) training for over 125 young people. The training took place in four counties (Gbarpolu, Rural Montserrado, Bong, and Grand Gedeh) under the Just and Equal Communities (JEC) project that focuses on empowering young people to secure Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Liberia. The project is fully funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia. 

The ELBAG is a process and methodological framework combining organizing people, developing grassroots monitoring mechanisms, democratizing knowledge (particularly political economy and economics), and using participatory tools and methods to build public accountability and transparency to initiate people-centered advocacy processes. ELBAG creates a space where young people can discuss economics and use it as an entry point to build inclusive, democratic, and just governance.

According to Gloria D. Yancy,  AAL Project Coordinator, the ELBAG training addresses result in three of the project that looks at building strong and effective actions by communities, Human Rights Defenders, civil society, and social movements holding duty bearers to account for quality and gender-responsive public services and policies through a human rights lensShe underscored the importance of the training considering Liberia’s National elections and how this will help to hold public officials and aspirants accountable for Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) as well as other public services delivery. Gloria stressed the importance of including gender budgeting which mostly affects the SRHR of women, girls, and young people. She indicated that the previous years have seen less prioritization on gender budgeting resulting in poor funding for public services such as SRHR.

The month-long training taught young people how budgets are formulated at the household, community, district, county, and national levels. More importantly, the activities also created an improved awareness of budget allocation and how this has an effect on gender-responsive public service delivery, especially on women and girls unmet health needs. The training gave an insight into how young people can use ELBAG skills to track budgets and influence prioritization as well as local and national level accountability by the state and other duty bearers.

Commenting from Bentol City in Bensonville training, the participants appreciated AAL for the ELBAG training and asserted that it had been an eye-opener for all young people. They noted the need for redrafting of characteristics guidelines for all politicians who want to contest. They spoke on the importance of Social contracts between young people and politicians. 

The social contracts will help us hold all those who aspire to contest and those sitting in power already to deliver what they would have promised. The social agreements are one of the documents that prove that all citizens of Liberia have the power and freedom to employ politicians willing to work to create a better Liberia,” the young people asserted.

Speaking from Bopolu city during the training held in Gbarpolu County on the second week of March 2023, Dwede Tarpeh, Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia Program Officer, reiterated the importance of this training towards young people as it is building their capacity on public accountability through budget monitoring on how the resources are gathered and used at community, and district, county and national levels. Looking ahead into the future, Dwedwe noted the importance of ELBAG training should Liberia consider bracing counties’ devolution of power. It can be recalled that before the war, all counties were responsible for their development. With such training like ELBAG, Tarpeh noted that it will be easier for young people to fall into the plan because they would have acquired adequate knowledge and skills.   

This training is important to the young people as they are the leaders of tomorrow. One day Liberia will readapt the devolution of power by county, with skills and knowledge gained from the ELBAG training, it will be easier for all young people to implement what they are learning today,” Dwede Tarpeh stated.

The one-month-long training climaxed on Saturday, the 25th, 2023, in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. During the interview, Chue Goah Roberts, the program officer for ActionAid, noted that the training was necessary and conducted at a crucial time when Liberia is preparing to host its national general elections. Chue further stated that the ELBAG training will help young people with better knowledge that can be applied during this year’s national campaigns.

ActionAid continues to build the capacity of young people, especially young women, and people living with disabilities, to gain knowledge and understanding on accountability and governance so they can challenge and hold duty bearers to account.

ActionAid is one of the leading organizations in Liberia on women’s rights and gender equality with government and community recognition. We are known for our non-negotiable stance on women’s rights and most excluded in Liberian society.