County Support Teams
In support of the Government of Liberia’s decentralization and recovery efforts, the United Nations (UN) has created an integrated mechanism to strengthen the capacity of local administration, joining the collective capacities, knowledge, expertise and resources of the UN’s peace-keeping, humanitarian and development arms.
The County Support Teams (CSTs) in each county were established to ensure a coherent and consolidated UN approach to addressing county challenges, supporting Government and building capacity of government institutions.
To further support these teams with enhancing the capacity of the weak local administration, the UN created the CST project, which is coordinated by UNDP and works through UNMIL Civil Affairs staff in the 15 counties. Working closely with other UN agencies, the project focuses on
- Restoring functionality of administrative buildings and providing other logistical support and
developing capacity of county officials,
- Strengthening data/information management in the counties,
The CST aligns itself to the objectives and plans of the Government and puts national ownership squarely at the heart of the initiative. The CST initiative is led by a Joint Government/UN Steering Committee and supported by a technical team comprising relevant UN actors.
The CST model has added considerable value in the Liberia context, providing both a framework and a common vehicle for UN action at the local level. Moreover, it continues to be a means for those UN actors without local representation to extend their reach and deliver assistance where needed, at the local level. CST has supported planning and major transition processes for the Liberian people, including the preparation of 15 County Development Agendas (CDAs), emerging from an unprecedented series of district and county consultations, which shaped Liberia’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS 2008-2011) .
During the past two years (2006-2008) the CST support, composed of both ‘hard and soft components’, has enabled the local administration to become more operational. The ‘hard components’ included construction of County Administrative Buildings, complete with furniture, solar panels and generators as well as pick-ups and basic IT-equipment to all counties. The project also contributed to the rebuilding of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ premises in Monrovia, enabling the Ministry to enhance its support to the counties.
On the other hand, building on the various capacities of UN entities, a strong ‘soft component’ element was delivered, focusing on training and capacity development of local government staff in areas ranging from participatory planning, computer literacy and human rights to women’s empowerment, civic education, local leadership/governance and advancement of the Millennium Development Goals. Also, to capacitate local authorities in data collection and information management, the project has together with UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council, supported the setting-up of Information Management Offices (IMOs) in 11 out of 15 counties.