Welcome! This blog documents my experience as a Nancy Germeshausen Klavans Cultural Bridge Fellow with the Liberian Ministry of Gender and Development during my studies at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The views expressed are solely my own and are written to share experiences, introduce issues, and initiate conversation. Thank you for reading!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Observing the Cabinet Retreat

The Cabinet in action, while the interns focus in from the back row.

Last Friday, we received a warm welcome to observe the nine-hour Cabinet Retreat. (Sorry to disappoint, but there were no dramatic shouting matches or controversial decisions made.) The majority of the retreat focused on a review of Liberia's progress towards completing its deliverables in its Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (iPRS). This is a two-year long comprehensive strategy divided into 4 pillars: Security, Economic Revitalization, Strengthening Governance and the Rule of Law, and Rehabilitating Infrastructure and Delivering Basic Services. Within these pillars there are hundreds of programs/activities that the Liberian government has committed to implement/accomplish. This is the guiding document for donors (other countries, The World Bank, United Nations, etc.) as they decide how to best support Liberia. In addition it serves as an accountability mechanism; next June, the donors will be checking on Liberia's performance in implementing its ambitious iPRS.

It was a long day of reports on progress in each pillar, things ranging from defining a National Defense Policy to completing artisan training for 500 women (the Ministry of Gender reported that training has been completed for 349 women - moving in the right direction). In any case, it was quite an interesting day witnessing the government's treatment of a tool (the PRS) designed by the World Bank to help countries plan their own development agenda.

A photo of the interns with Natty Davis, National Coordinator of the Liberia Reconstruction and Development Committee (LRDC). The LRDC coordinates many of the activities surrounding donors and the implementation of the iPRS.

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