Capacity Building Activities of Bangladesh Contingents in Liberia

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Introduction:

  1. BANGLA-BONG Agro Farm. The project was
    launched by BANBATT-11 with an area of 25 acres of land near GBANGA city
    towards the end of 2007. The entire concept of the project was to create a
    sense of ownership and belongingness to the war affected individuals. Total 400
    ex- combatants and their families were directly involved in this project.
    Initially only 4 acres of the land was cleared for it? cultivation. BANBATT-16
    assisted the beneficiaries to expand the farm up to 25 acres. This project has
    got permanent shape by the patronization of BANBATT-16. At present rice,
    cassava, various types of vegetables are being cultivated in the project area.
    The ex-combatants got a new beacon of life in this farm. It inspired the other
    locals that farming can be one of the ways for self sustenance. The ex-combatants
    and their families who are directly involved in this farm are away from
    different anti-social activities. Mark Dowee, the head of the Bangla-Bong Agro
    Farm, could not hide his feelings at the departure of BANBATT-16 whom he termed
    his “very good friends”. “With the departure of BANBATT-16, we
    don’t think we’ll ever get any contingent that can replace them. They rendered
    us immeasurable assistance and imparted to us skills that have redirected our
    orientation of life. They did extremely well for us,” Dowee noted. With
    the assistance of UNDP, Government of Liberia, the Project committee has begun
    establishing similar model farms in other districts across the county. After
    the repatriation of BANBATT-16, this project was handed over to the Civil
    Authority.

  • Youth
    for Development and Progressive Action (YDPA). Youth for Development and
    progress (YDPA) is volunteer organization in Bong County of Liberia. It was
    started as a pilot project in June 2009 with 100 youth members. It is a mixture
    of war affected youths, students, abused girls and a few amputees. After the
    successful launching, it was proposed to expand through out 12 districts of the
    county. The aim of this project was to assist the youth of Bong County by
    enhancing knowledge on agricultural & vocational sector and assist to
    develop the economy and self sustainment. This project put some efforts to
    prevent the youth from committing criminal activities and involved them into
    something more productive and sustainable. It also demonstrated efficient
    agricultural development to the locals. The then Force Commander Lt Gen A T M
    Zahirul Alam, reds, ndc, psc (retd) inaugurated this project formally on 21
    July 2009. At present 50 acres of land have been brought under cultivation
    where rice, Cassava, different kinds of fruits and vegetables like Papaya,
    Cucumber, Beans, Okra, Corn, Brinjal, Water Melon, Potato etc were cultivated.
    Prince Simpson, the head of the YDPA group, recently reported a bumper rice
    harvest from 50-acres farm. He said they had harvested 1200 kilogram of rice.
    As the UNMIL is in draw down phase, this project has been handed over to civil
    authority and Project Committee.

  •  Ideal Village Project at SALALA. BANBATT-14 launched an Ideal Village named as ‘SHADOW OF HEAVEN’ to rehabilitate war affected people of Salala/ Totato District in January in an area of 150 acres of land. This was the second major capacity building initiative of BANBATT14 in its Area of Responsibility. The then Force Commander Lt Gen A T M Zahirul Alam, reds, ndc, psc (retd) inaugurated the BANGLA BONG IDEAL VILLAGE. The main focus of this village was to make awareness among the inhabitant that how well they can ensure their socio-economic security by utilizing their inter-dependency with each other. There are numbers of small towns around the county which are mainly along the road sides. This project comprise a school, community-based farms, a fish pond, vegetable gardening and 5000 fingerlings, and a poultry farm with chickens, ducks and goats, is actually a demonstration on how local villagers can produce all its own food and be self sufficient in addition to encouraging backyard gardening.

Vocational Training
Centre

There were some vocational
training centres established by Bangladesh contingents who are designed to
train Liberian citizens, particularly the youths of Liberia in developing their
human skill for building their capacity for creating employment and/or
self-employment opportunities. These are:

  1. Bangladesh-Liberia
    Friendship Centre (BLFC), BLFC is a vocational training centre established by
    Bangladesh Sector at GANTA City in 2005. Courses on five categories are running
    there. Those are Basic Computer, Tailoring, First Aid, Generator Maintenance,
    Electric Wiring and Fitting and Carpentry. More than two thousand local youths
    were imparted skill training in BLFC so far. This institution has been handed
    over to the local civil authority. But still this is supervised by Bangladesh
    Contingent (presently BANBATT-18).

  • Bangladesh-Liberia
    Youth Centre (BLYC). Bangladesh-Liberia Youth Centre (BLYC) was established in
    January 2008 at Bangladesh Square in CAR! Compound. Vocational training on four
    categories is run in this institution. These are Basic Computer, Tailoring and
    Embroidery, Masonry, First Aid and Medicare. By now about 400 (four hundred)
    local youths have been trained there.

  • Bangla-Nimba
    Capacity Building Centre (BNCBC). A Vocational Training Centre named Bangla-
    Nimba Capacity Building Centre (BNCBC) was established by BANBATT-18 at
    Tappita. On 24 Jul 2010 the activity of BNCBC was inaugurated by the FTble
    President of Liberia during her Independence Day visit. BNCBC is a joint collaborative
    CIMIC project, which will mainly be owned and run by the public, assisted by
    the GoL, UNMIL and UNDP. County / District administration will perform the
    supervisory roles in facilitating the smooth functioning of the institution,
    and ensuring its continuation even after UNMIL leaves. First session of BNCBC,
    Tapita has already been completed where total 44 local youths successfully
    qualified in three disciplines; namely Computer training, Tailoring and
    Generator repair & maintenance. Also the ground breaking ceremony of
    Bangla-Nimba Capacity Building Centre (BNCBC) at Sanniquellie was held on 27
    July 2010. The foundation of BNCBC is laid by the DSRSG (ROL). In continuation
    with the capacity building programs in the counties, this vocational training
    centre was designed by BANBATT-18.

Ongoing Capacity
Building Activities

Be self-dependent and help
yourself is the idea, which drives the Bangladesh contingents towards skill
training program aiming at fighting unemployment. Presently Bangladesh
contingents are deployed under Sector-B consisting of 1431 Bangladeshi troops
assisted by some Pakistani and Chinese as well.

Bangladesh contingents carried
out different capacity building activities, which contributed significantly to
the development of this community. People from all walks of life embraced
Bangladeshi peacekeepers as their true friends, well wishers and real
contributors. As the UNMIL is in drawdown stage, only one major Bangladesh
Battalion (BANBATT-18) is deployed in Liberia. Most of the capacity building
projects are now looked after by this battalion:

  1. Bain Clan Development Council (BCDC) Project. To
    develop the capacity of income generating activities of rural people through
    agriculture farming the BCDC project was launched by BANBTT-17 in 2009. The
    project is mainly focused on cultivating paddy and vegetables. The aim is to
    encourage local community members to become self- reliant through similar
    projects and create bondage between contingents members and local citizens.
    Presently total cultivable area of the project is 15 acres and about 400
    Liberians are directly benefited from it.

  • Ideal Domah Town
    Projeet( IDTP).
    With a view to building the capacity and confidence amongst
    the inhabitants through developing an ideal town consists of agriculture farm,
    poultry, fisheries.

  • BANENGR CAM Agro Friendship. elementary school,
    playground and health sanitation system, the Ideal Domah Town Project (IDTP)
    was undertaken in 2009. It is basically a community development project which
    aims at assisting the inhabitants of Domah Town. This project was designed to
    transform a poorly organized community into a self- dependent, income
    generating, healthy and confident work force. Total inhabitants of this town
    are around 350. Project (BCAFP). Bangladesh contingent started a joint venture
    with Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) of Liberia to collaborate
    the easy techniques regarding production of harvest. BANENGR conceived an idea
    to bring the varieties in agro products by using various types of seeds taken
    from Bangladesh through the experts of CARI complex and using their farmers.
    Initially, the pilot project started with three acres of land within CARI
    complex. WFP extended its support for the payments of farmers. CARI experts are
    providing their manpower and equipment. Total 50 fanners of 15 family have been
    trained to improve their farmland in correct manner to make them
    self-sufficient. Moreover, new varieties of crops brought from Bangladesh are
    oriented with the Liberians.

  • Other Agriculture Projects. Following are some other
    agriculture projects run by the Bangladesh contingent in Liberia.

  • Capacity Building of Liberian National Police (LNP),
    Bangladesh contingent regularly assists local LNPs in improving their
    capability through on the job training. As a result, LNPs are now capable of checking
    vehicles at Snap vehicle Check points; provide security to the Central Bank of
    Liberia during transaction along with shipment and transit independently.

Conclusion: 

With the passage of time, UNMIL has got maturity and now it is in the drawdown phase. Peace in Liberia is also quite sustained and flawless. Accordingly, UNMIL has also re¬evaluated its CIMIC focus in which maximum stress has also been given on the strength of capacity building as the UN mission gradually closes down. Keeping UNMIL CIMIC focus in view, Bangladesh contingents have also set their courses of action. But whatever role played by the peacekeepers, the main players here are the local population who found their needs and ways to take effective initiatives. The Bangladeshi peacekeepers will leave Liberia in near future physically but they will remain alive in the hearts and minds of the people through their sincere and relentless effort especially in the field of capacity building activities.

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