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Urban Agriculture in Liberia, Africa

Policy Narrative on urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in Liberia

Analysis of UPA in Greater Monrovia, Tubmanburg
and Gbarnga, facilitated by Welthungerhilfe, CARE
Liberia and RUAF, under their UPA programmes (EU
April 2012

Excerpt: Introduction

The total population of Liberia is estimated at 3.9 million with an annual average growth rate of 2.1 (GoL, 2011a). Almost 50 percent is living in urban areas, and Liberia is rapidly urbanizing with an annual urban population growth of 4.5 percent (ACF, 2010; GoL, 2010). The majority of this urban population, estimated at around 1.2 million, lives in Greater Monrovia, but due to rural-to-urban migration and continued unrest in the region, smaller urban settlements, such as Gbarnga (approximately 35,000 inhabitants) and Tubmanburg (approximately 20,000) are also growing rapidly. Attention to sustainable development of these smaller cities is increasingly seen as important (UN Habitat, 2006, GoL, 2011b). Greater Monrovia stretches over 20,000 ha, including the city of Monrovia, several townships and the city of Paynesville. The organisation under the Greater Monrovia City is being discussed.

The years of civil war, which ended in 2003, seriously disrupted the Liberian economy, and lead to an overall impoverishment of the country. Liberia is still emerging from two decades of conflict and political turmoil. The efforts of the Government of Liberia (GoL) to rebuild the economy, maintain peace and security, while improving the livelihoods of its inhabitants, is strongly supported by the international community. However, Liberia’s national recovery and development processes are confronted with many challenges, varying from rising food prices, slow decentralization and local revenue collection capacity, to a high dependency on imported food. These challenges greatly impact the urban poor.

Liberia is one of the least developed low-income and food deficit countries in the World. Extreme poverty affects over 50 percent of the rural population and 30 percent of the urban population (GoL, 2008, 2011b). Well over 60 percent of the Liberians are estimate to be food insecure (GoL, 2011a), while severe food insecurity affects 13 percent (current dietary intake is grossly inadequate and unable to meet nutritional requirements (ACF, 2010). This situation got worse in 2011 (GoL, 2011a) Urban food insecurity is often overlooked since at aggregate level, economic and social conditions in urban areas are much better than those in rural areas.

Rural-to-urban migration combined with limited employment opportunities in the cities is leading to a shift in the focus of poverty alleviation from rural to urban areas. Urban poverty is increasing. The majority of the urban poor do not have access to a regular source of income. Formal unemployment is high: estimated to be between 80 and 85 percent (ACF, 2010). In Monrovia and increasingly so in smaller cities like Tubmanburg and Gbarnga, urban poverty and unemployment go hand in hand with growing food insecurity and malnutrition. The share of expenditure on food is high among the poor households making them particularly vulnerable to food price hikes.

Read the complete report here.

See the Liberia urban agriculture website here.