FAO in Liberia

Liberia at a glance

After 15 years of devastating civil war, Liberia since 2003 has appreciated peace with a current growing population of little over 4 million people. Liberia is a low human development country, ranking 181 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) classification of 2018, with an average life expectancy at birth of 63 years and ten expected years school attendance on average.

The economy of Liberia relies heavily on foreign assistance and remittances from the diaspora. It is richly endowed with natural resources and abundance of water, and a climate favourable to agriculture. Its principal exports are iron ore, rubber, diamonds, and gold. Palm oil and cocoa are emerging as new export products. The government has attempted to revive raw timber extraction and is encouraging oil exploration. In the 1990s and early 2000s, civil war and bad governance destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially infrastructure in and around the capital. Much of the conflict was fueled by control over Liberia’s natural resources. With the conclusion of fighting and the installation of a democratically elected government in 2005, businesses that had fled the country began to return. The country achieved high growth during the period 2010-13 due to favourable world prices for its commodities.

However, during the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis, the economy declined and many foreign-owned businesses departed with their capital and expertise. The epidemic forced the government to divert scarce resources to combat the spread of the virus, reducing funds available for needed public investment. The cost of addressing the Ebola epidemic coincided with decreased economic activity reducing government revenue, although higher donor support significantly offset this loss. During the same period, global commodities prices for key exports fell and have yet to recover to pre-Ebola levels. In 2017, gold was a key driver of growth, as a new mining project began its first full year of production; iron ore exports are also increased as Arcelor Mittal opened new mines at Mount Gangra. The completion of the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydroelectric Dam increased electricity production to support on-going and future economic activity, although electricity tariffs remain high relative to other countries in the region and transmission infrastructure is limited.

Presidential and legislative elections in October 2017 generated election-related spending pressures. Revitalizing the economy in the future will depend on economic diversification, increasing investment and trade, higher global commodity prices, sustained foreign aid and remittances, development of infrastructure and institutions, combating corruption, and maintaining political stability and security.

The ushering in of the new government with her would be development agenda named and styled “Pro-Poor opens a window of numerous opportunities for FAO to support. FAO remains committed to support the new development agenda and will align its priorities with government’s Pro Poor priorities.