The Liberian experience

EFA relocated to Liberia after a coup d’etat in Freetown made it too dangerous to work in Sierra Leone in May 1997. EFA had just begun to see its community-based land reclamation work in the diamond mining region of Sierra Leone take off.

The environmental resources and threats to environmental health in Liberia are very similar to those in Sierra Leone.

Using its experience in Sierra Leone, EFA began operating a campaign for renvironmental awareness and positive action in Liberia. Awareness raising and tree planting activities targeted 45 schools in seven communities in Monrovia, the capital, and Nimba county.

For the next two years, EFA was actively raising awareness about the environment, promoting energy conservation through efficent stoves and reforesting degraded land.

In 1998, EFA became United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) partner for environmental action in refugee and internally displaced peoples (IDP) camps.

EFA filled a previously empty niche in the refugee and humanitarian operations in Liberia by working to safeguard important environmental resources such as wood, water and productive agriculture land.

Refugees and IDPs are highly vulnerable to poverty as they have left their entire lives behind in efforts to secure a safer living situation.

Their lives and livelihoods are sustained in part through access to fuel wood, clean drinking water, and forest products.

Refugee and IDP camps place significant pressure on the surround environmental ressources.

EFA’s primary objective was to ensure that refugees, IDPs and the communities that host the camps were aware of the importance of the environment in the lives. EFA provided tools, training and education to enable postive environmental action in refugee situations.

EFA continues its work with the refugee and IDP communities in Liberia today.