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Liberia: a woman working on the land

We are here in Liberia

Liberia is still deeply impacted by the wounds inflicted during the civil war. Trauma and hatred lead to broken communities. Working together on rebuilding was nearly an impossible undertaking. In 2013, ZOA started offering emergency relief. By this time, we have already achieved a great deal in the recovery phase.

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The long shadow of a civil war

of the people in Liberia don't have access to clean water
of people live on less than 1.25 US-dollar a day
of the children aged 6-59 months are stunted

many challenges

Working side by side on recovery

ZOA began working in Liberia in 2003, helping people to rebuild their lives following the devastation of a 14-year civil war. Liberia’s recovery from the war, and the Ebola epidemic, has been a slow process, with many setbacks. Although the country has been relatively stable and peaceful over the last years, many challenges remain.

ZOA works across Liberia’s 15 counties, most of our activities take place in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba and Lofa. In order to have the most impact, also in the long term, we focus on four sectors: water, sanitation, and hygiene; food security; education; and peacebuilding. Our work in all four of these sectors means they reinforce each other, and they contribute to the building up of a healthy, resilient society.

Rebuilding trust and sustaining inclusive peace

Liberian communities still experience the impact of the violent war that ended 15 years ago. We help individuals and communities who are traumatized by the war to rebuild safety and trust and to foster reconciliation and healing. ZOA works with several partners to encourage inclusive dialogues and to strengthen trust between communities, community and traditional leaders, and government institutions. In collaboration with with the Liberia Peacebuilding Office we promote reconciliation before and after elections.

In addition, efforts have been made to strengthen Liberia’s Early Warning and Early Response system and to resolve conflicts across the country through County Peace Committees. We help establish, train, and guide these local Peace Committees. It is beautiful to see the valuable role they play and how they can serve as mediators in conflicts about the use of farmland or domestic violence. As women and youth still remain underrepresented in conflict resolution, peacebuilding efforts and political and civic engagements, ZOA empowers them to meaningfully participate.

The impact of ZOA's work in Liberia in 2020

With a team of 48 staff members we supported 29,792 people.

of our budget was spent on recovery
people participated in peacebuilding activities
small family farmer improved their skills
students gained access to elementary education

Education as a key to employment

Liberia’s high levels of youth unemployment are a cause of concern with respect to the maintenance of peace in this fragile post-conflict setting. Therefore, is is crucial to educate and support young people to gain employment. In ZOA’s Home Grown School Meals programme in Margibi County the yield of local farmers is used to create delicious and nutritious school meals. These meals are an important trigger for children to go to school. In this programme, 5,484 students receive a nutritious meal in school on a daily basis. As a result, enrolment in the 21 schools increased by 21%. ZOA also established 65 youth internships in ‘’Small Business Management, Food Processing and Agro-Entrepreneurship’’. The interns are equipped to participate in this growing sector to either start their own small businesses. 

A comprehensive approach to food security

Since 2013, ZOA has worked alongside the Ministry of Agriculture to improve food security and increase resilience in the rural areas of Liberia. The programme focuses on building the capacity of smallholder farmers to significantly increase their productivity and to engage in new market and value chain linkages. We work with 3,000 farmers in 100 communities, empowering them for a long-term positive future. We support them to adopt improved agriculture practices to grow a wider range of nutritious and marketable crops. Morover, we help them to get better prices by processing these crops and connect them to the market. The approach is successful: cassava yields, for example, more than doubled. 

In the same villages, we establish mothers groups that support women to grow, prepare and market nutritious vegetables from their own gardens. Women, men and children learn about nutrition, food safety and good hygienic and dietary practices to reduce under-nutrition and to support healthy child development.

A woman cooking in Liberia

Innovation in water, sanitation and hygiene

Improvements in the provision of drinking water deliver immediate results. Cholera and diarrhea decrease, and child-mortality rates also fall. ZOA works with partners to drill boreholes, to establish hand pumps, to build school latrines and hand-washing stations and to educate communities about good hygiene practices. In the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector, ZOA has made a groundbreaking contribution by establishing and professionalizing manual drilling in Liberia. ZOA’s work has enabled the expansion of this cost-effective, innovative and high-quality technique to several counties. In total, over 200 boreholes have been established and/or rehabilitated and provided tens of thousands of Liberians with access to safe drinking water.

Working together

Donors and partners

Our work is funded by the European Union, SIDA, YEP (Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs), UNICEF, ECOWAS, Irish Aid, Vreugdenhil Dairy Foods, Hoogwegt Group,  Turing Foundation, ZOA the Netherlands, Stichting De Pagter Fonds. We work together with PBO, ONPA, SHIFSD, YMCA, WHH, Concern, SPARK and ABIC. 

Pictures on this page: Margreet Noordhof

A school in Liberia
Mary in Liberia

Mary Ben, Bong County, Liberia

It is so good to get meals at school. I was always hungry and felt too weak to pay attention. Now I feel good. I have the will and the energy to go to school. That means I get better grades.