The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Liberian government on Tuesday signed a $15 million grant in Monrovia to promote equitable access to land, improve girls? primary education enrollment and retention, and trade policy and practices.

Cassandra Butts, senior advisor to the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, said the MCC views Liberia as a model of progress.

Map of LIberia
Map of Liberia

?It means that we have determined that Liberia is now positioned to be a partner with the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Threshold Program. And, the Threshold Program focuses on countries that don?t quite qualify to meet our performance indicator, but we believe that they are well-positioned, with some assistance, to meet the indicators,? she said.

Butts said the money would go toward financing three areas identified by the Liberian government as part of its development strategy.

?The three areas are trade policy, land access and land policy, and the third area is a focus on girls? primary education enrollment and retention,? she said.

Millennium Challenge Corporation is an official U.S. agency designed to work with developing countries to promote sound political, economic, and social policies that promote poverty reduction through economic growth.

?One of the things that is very important to the MCC model is it?s a country-driven approach where we work with countries and the countries take the lead in identifying areas where they determined will lead to poverty reduction and economic growth,? Butts said.

A 2008 survey by the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission warned there was a possibility of Liberia returning to violence if the government did not move to address the land issue.

There are numerous reported examples of cases where land has been encroached upon, demarcated or resold.

Butts said the bulk of the $15 million will be spent on land accessibility, security and administration and registration, as determined by the Liberian government.

?Of the three areas that we?re focusing, it is the area we?re making the largest investment because that?s what the government has determined. A couple of issues that we?re looking at in the land access and land policy program is, one, we?re looking at where to assist Liberians in harmonizing their land policy based on their customary practices and existing law,? Butts said.

She said the issue of girls? primary education and girls? education in general is a significant focus of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the MCC because MCC uses girls? primary education to determine if a country is investing in its people.