Liberia: ADRA Working with Refugee Populations from Cote d’Ivoire
SILVER SPRING, Md. – The eastern region of Grand Gedeh, Liberia has become home to more than 150,000 refugees from neighboring country, Cote d’Ivoire. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) continues to assist some of the neediest of families who have sought refuge in Liberia from drought and civil unrest. Through a project that is distributing supplies of food, and offering training in agriculture and domestic violence education, ADRA is helping strengthen physical and mental health amongst refugees.
Following the presidential election in November 2010, riots erupted in Cote d’Ivoire that eventually led 1 million people to flee from an uncertain and fearful future. Approximately 170,000 people sought refuge in neighboring Liberia, the majority of who are still living there today. Refugee camps are overcrowded, and the abounding population has placed stress on the availability of food. Lack of land has made it increasingly difficult for the refugee population to support their livelihood, leaving them highly dependent on assistance.
In response to the needs, ADRA has been distributing food amongst the refugee population with a special high-energy diet offered to children under five years of age. In addition to temporarily alleviating hunger, ADRA is also providing 1,700 families in Grand Gedeh with packets of seeds, agricultural tools, and equipment so that they can support themselves and families once ADRA’s project comes to a close.
Malnutrition is widespread, not only within refugee camps but also amongst the local Liberian communities. The effect of insufficient food is widely felt, especially when considering that a little more than 70 percent of Liberia’s population heavily relies on agriculture. Harsh weather conditions make agriculture an unstable source of income; therefore, ADRA has reached out to food-insecure Liberians in order to ensure food is readily available. ADRA is offering training in farming techniques to improve the yield of crops in farming communities within Pohan Baywadee and Janzon refugee camps. Working closely with village elders, ADRA is teaching farmers how to properly cultivate vegetable seeds, which can then be used by the population for further cultivation.
In addition to food security and agricultural training, ADRA is meeting the needs of women affected by gender-based violence, (GBV) a common occurrence within refugee populations. In the town of Ziah, ADRA has has built a center for women who are victims of sexual violence. In this center, approximately 1,200 women, particularly single mothers and pregnant women, receive psychological support, and are offered the chance to participate in various training programs. In addition, ADRA has opened sports clubs for women with the purpose to educate young women about the early warning signs and destructive consequences of domestic violence.