This final report highlights the activities and achievements of the Civil Society and Media Leadership (CSML) Program, which was led by IREX in partnership with The Carter Center and Social Impact. Launched in 2010, this five-and-a-half-year project was designed to contribute to building a more capable, collaborative, and agile civil society and media sector in Liberia, a country recovering from fourteen years of civil conflict. The goal of the project was to "sustain peace in Liberia through greater inclusion, giving a voice to, informing and engaging Liberian citizens."
The report offers a detailed description of the strategies and activities implemented by IREX and its partners. The activities of the programme included: providing intensive support including training, mentoring, small grants, and equipment to over 60 civil society organisations (CSOs) and 35 media outlets in 15 counties; distributing over US$6 million in grants to CSOs to conduct advocacy, reconciliation, civic and voter education, and Ebola awareness raising; contributing to the organisational development of CSOs; providing to community radio stations a total of over US$400K worth of equipment, including 19 transmitters; training by the Carter Center of 3,500 chiefs, women, and youth to advance access to justice and resolve community disputes; and conducting awareness raising activities around freedom of information to over 15,000 Liberians across the seven original target counties (for more information, see Related Summary below).
In terms of achievements, the report highlights the following (as extracted from the Executive Summary):
- Civil society partners conduct advocacy that is more informed and less confrontational, engage the media as a key stakeholder, and have more productive strategies for engaging local and national government. These institutions are accessing outside funding opportunities to sustain themselves explicitly as a result of CSML training and mentoring, winning grants from external funders over the past four years worth over US$7 million.
- Community radio partners have better trained staff, capable of developing conflict sensitive, ethical content that reflects and responds to local priorities. Many of these partners have wider listening coverage, with partner stations in the original target counties increasing reach from 79% to 91% of their intended populations. Whereas previously, community radio stations would remain off the air for months or even years due to equipment failures, stations now have access to an Equipment Resource Pool managed by local partners at the helm of the media sector in Liberia, coupled with a cadre of Regional Service Technicians providing much-needed sustainable technical expertise.
- CSML's Monrovia-based media partners employ journalists that have enhanced confidence and capacity to report on priority issues and produce investigative stories that challenge the status quo and broaden the conversation beyond politics. Media managers better understand the media market and advertising opportunities and are accessing new partnerships and funds as a result.
- Female journalists have increased in number (increasing in representation from 14% to 24% from 2010 to 2014) and capacity, producing content for newspapers, radio, and TV that heightens the voices of all Liberians, including its most marginalised and historically silent citizens. Many station managers are more aware of their responsibility to support all of their staff, regardless of gender, and provide opportunities for aspiring female journalists to learn and grow professionally. Media outlets across the country benefit from a ratified Gender Policy, developed by the Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC) in partnership with the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) and the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), which establishes standards for women's engagement and inclusion in the media sector.
The report concludes with a list of lessons learned that the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID (the donor agency for the programme), implementing partners, local entities, and other development partners committed to fostering the development of Liberia can refer to when planning similar programmes.
IREX website on July 7 2016.