The Mt. Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project has generated multiple benefits for the local community in the project area as well as the Liberian community on a larger scale. The project included, as part of its social safeguards, the rehabilitation and expansion of the health facility at Raymond’s Camp. The project has also rehabilitated the access road (Caldwell Road) from Bushrod Island to Mt. Coffee, and improved the access road from Bensonville to Mt. Coffee, both of which have resulted in considerable improvements for the communities living at Mt. Coffee and along the access roads, significantly decreasing transportation costs and increasing access to goods and services.
The project has also generated employment benefits for the local community (skilled and unskilled) and for Liberia’s citizens more broadly, with about 1,000 local persons employed during construction on short- and long-term assignments with project contractors.
In 2015 LEC contracted local NGO Educare to assist with the Resettlement Action Plan activities, namely, witnessing and attesting to the payments made to affected persons, and providing financial literacy training to affected persons in the area of the reservoir. The training was carried out from May through December 2015 and resulted in improved skills in the following areas:
– Financial literacy and importance of savings;
– Investment, budgeting for new enterprises, and simple business planning;
– Managing finance in farm operations;
– Identifying and mitigating financial risks;
– Accessing credit and other financial services;
Basic literacy training was also delivered to participants lacking the knowledge to read and write.
One hundred and forty-eight (148) people (60% male, 40% female) from the affected communities in Harrisburg, Arthington, and Mt. Coffee townships benefited from the training. The approach for carrying out the training was to first train trainers who were identified from the communities. The advantage of using this methodology was to make sure that capacities were built and would remain in the communities long after the end of the project. The training of trainers was an ongoing activity while the training was being delivered in the communities, under the supervision of Educare. Since the completion of training, LEC has received positive feedback, with beneficiaries proudly testifying to the gains they have made from accounting for and saving their money, including the RAP compensation. These gains have included being able to afford more food for their families, and establishing new businesses in the area.
Project funder MCC is in the process of developing additional livelihood initiatives in improved agriculture, forestry management, and potentially fisheries.