While the security situation has stabilized since the war and people are returning to their homes, enormous challenges lie ahead for Liberians and their new government. Rebuilding destroyed community infrastructure and shelter is one of the most urgent needs. While there is a huge need to rebuild, the resources and systems for development are in short supply.
ARC is implementing two community development projects that target over 52 communities in Bong and Lofa Counties with high numbers of refugee and IDP returnees. Both projects focus on community participation, and support communities to determine their own needs, design appropriate solutions and follow through on the implementation.
Community Empowerment Projects (CEPs), funded by UNHCR are community driven and managed projects that involve construction/reconstruction of schools, clinics, markets, water and sanitation, agriculture, and social services. ARC assisted communities in Bong County in completing 16 CEPs and is currently implementing 7 more. With technical assistance from ARC, communities form committees to manage the projects and supply all labor and local materials. Additional funding from UNHCR will go towards an additional 14 CEPs in 2006.
Community Toolkits, funded by OFDA, are sets of tools identified by the community for use in building shelters for returning refugees and IDPs, Not only do communities share the tools, they also share the workload, as neighbors relatives and friends come together to help rebuild their communities. In 2005, ARC distributed 40 toolkits to 40 communities and worked with communities to develop strategies for common use and maintenance of the toolkits as well as plans for community development. Four months after distribution, the toolkits have enabled communities to build more than 5,000 houses and rehabilitate over 2,500. An additional 25 toolkits will be distributed in 2006.