In September 2016, The Hague Institute held its first stakeholder meeting in Monrovia, Liberia for the Employment for Stability project. The project is funded through NWO-WOTRO in collaboration with the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law, which seeks to address issues in fragile and conflict-affected contexts.
Liberia is one of the five recipient countries of employment interventions that has been selected for our research. During the stakeholder meeting, preliminary data analyses on stability in Liberia (from 2000 – 2015) were presented to several local organizations. Also, the design and implementation of employment intervention programs were discussed. Such participatory methods with relevant stakeholders enable the project team to evaluate and disseminate its findings, by correlating results with real-life experiences, tailoring the research to the needs of practitioners, and to impact on processes of capacity building and policy formulation.
The data on stability is divided into three components: 1) security of person and property; 2) social inclusion; and 3) social cohesion. Each component comprises multiple indicators and draws upon a range of datasets. To structure the analysis of each component, we identified specific themes to group the main trends, such as crime, national security, job availability, education, level of trust, and civic and political engagement.
Among the first main findings, we found that for security of person and property, overall levels of criminality, access to small arms and light weapons, and security personnel have remained high. In recent years, there was a significant increase in protest-events, however, political stability and the levels of political terror have improved. Furthermore, the funding for UN Peacekeeping increased after 2014 after a notable decrease between 2011 and 2014.
With regard to social inclusion, gender inequality appears to be the most significant driver of instability in Liberia, especially when it comes to education. Even though men have more advantages than women, the inactivity among the male population is high, as the majority of men are currently not employed and are not actively seeking employment. The reasons are yet to be determined, but it is either the perception that some ethnic groups are favored over others, there are simply not enough jobs available, or people with a job tend to stay in that position for a long time which creates less opportunities for male youth.
The social cohesion data indicators show us that for this component, one of the main drivers appears to be the low level of trust that respondents have in individuals, both within and outside their community. Compared with trust in institutions and other public figures, this type of trust remains low throughout the entire data collection timeframe. This might also explain why, despite strong interest in public matters, there is limited engagement and participation at the level of the community. Last, gender inequality might play a crucial role in determining the low level of social cohesion among women, which in turn would hinder stability.
Other countries where our data analysis will be presented through stakeholder meetings are Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Indonesia. Where possible, next to consultations with stakeholders, a private-sector-supported ‘study tour’ with entrepreneurs and business leaders will also take place in some of the selected countries.