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Liberia's President Sirleaf Launches Poverty Reduction Program

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Monday formally launched her government’s poverty reduction strategy with a call for more international support. President Sirleaf said the program is not a social welfare or a reinforced broadened safety road for the poor.

Lawrence Bropleh is Liberia’s minister of information. From the Liberian capital, Monrovia, he told VOA that the new poverty reduction strategy would serve as the government’s road map in meeting the needs of the Liberian people.

“President Sirleaf came to power and her passion and compassion are to improve the lives of every Liberian irrespective of whence they’ve come. And so her poverty reduction strategy is one that is going to guide us in our agriculture sector, to guide us in rebuilding our economy, to guide us in improving our health care delivery system, to guide in improving our education system,” he said.

Bropleh said although the priorities of the new poverty reduction strategy are many, the government is trying to focus on key sectors.

“We are trying to be strategic and we are trying to focus. For example, we are trying between now and at the end of the dry season to make sure that there are additional 10 schools that will be renovated in our nation. We have struggled to improve the enrollment of our children, particularly the girl child. There is now compulsory primary and free education in our primary and elementary schools. Not only would old roads be conditioned, but also old roads should become brand new ones. In Monrovia, there will be at least 400 miles of roads that would be completely redone,” Bropleh said.

He said the new poverty reduction strategy is different in many respects from the deliverables that President Sirleaf promised Liberians during the first 150 days of her presidency.

“The 150-days deliverables were what I would consider the quick impact deliverables because we needed to do something very quickly to show the people the good will of our president and this government. The poverty reduction strategy is sustainability and continuity. This is to drive our nation beyond 2008, beyond 2009, beyond 2010,” he said.

Bropleh said the new poverty reduction strategy would be paid for through wise management of resources and help from international donors.

“This is the first time in this nation that the government has had more of its budget going to education and health and agriculture than security, and so the will of this government is to do justice by managing the resources and being a good steward. And so we’re going to pay for it out of our budget, but also with understanding our partners are willing and ready to help us because they see that the government means well for the people,” Bropleh said.