It has been many years now since the civil war in Liberia ended, yet daily life in Liberia today is still effected by the conflict with ongoing tensions over ethnicity and land issues, many of which are resurfacing as they were never addressed before, during or after the war. However the 16,000 peacekeepers from over a dozen countries, who had served in Liberia from 2003 to 2018 to keep the peace, finally withdrew in the Spring of 2018 as the country transitioned into what is hoped to be a new era of peace with internal state security taking over. Despite this, travellers to Liberia are still warned to avoid demonstrations in case of violence and there is the ongoing risk of terrorist activity, especially where foreigners are known to congregate. That being said, there are risks wherever you travel in the world. In fact, in Liberia, you are at greater risk of being exposed to, or showing symptoms of, Marburg virus disease, Ebola or Lassa fever.
Of Liberia’s population of 5.058 million (2020), 40.37%are aged 14 year or under while the population of over 65s is just 3.32%. Nearly all of these children, and certainly their parents were scarred by the civil war and additionally have poor educational , opportunities with little prospect of finding legal employment in a country where corruption is rife from the highest levels down to local policemen. Overall life outcomes for those living in Liberia are poor. In the fourteen year long civil war 250,000 lives were lost out of its then ever smaller population of 3.5 million, its infrastructure destroyed, more than half of the population (50.9%) now live below the national poverty line with 20% in extreme poverty. Life expectancy is 64.10 years (2019) in a country ranked in 175th place out of 189 countries and territories in 2019 in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country.
In 2020, child mortality rate for Liberia was 78.3 deaths per 1,000 live births reflecting poor health care provision in the country, particularly in rural areas. This general lack of health resources is compounded by the country's hot, tropical climate that is ripe for numerous diseases from cholera, lymphatic filariasis, yellow fever, river blindness, to the country's greatest health threat of malaria. The two devastating civil wars practically wiped out water and sanitation infrastructure and, even today, less than 10% of Liberians have access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services. Liberia also s one of the lowest electricity access rates in the world, with only about 8% of households connected to the national grid. Even in urban areas such as Monrovia, the supply is intermittent while in rural areas mains elecricity (as opposed to solar) is available to around just 2% of the population.
Heavily dependent on foreign aid, for 70% of the population life means working in agriculture whilst just 8% are engaged in industry with 22% involved in the service sectors. Given that agriculture was the basis of life for most Liberian families the war caused irreparable damage, with villages destroyed, farm building gutted and many of those working on the land forced to flee for safety. As one farmer noted "When I came back, there was nothing." Starting from nothing is not easy in any walk of life, but never more so in agriculture when it can takes years to start harvesting worthwhile crops including coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava, palm oil, sugarcane and bananas. Such is the psychological impact of the two civil wars, many are fearful that warfare will break out again and are wary of building permanent structures that could again be razed to the ground. Reconstruction efforts have also been slowed by the destruction caused to the country's infrastructure with few paved roads and an inadequate rail system. The video (below) gives further insights into daily life in Liberia.
Life in Liberia: Volunteer in Liberia
Life in Liberia: Liberia Children
Life in Liberia: Sponsor Children in Liberia
Life in Liberia: Liberia Country Profile
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