The story of UNMIL [Book]:Capacity-building helps community to its feet
Following the outbreak of the 14-year civil war in Liberia, the economy of the country was in dire straits. The establishment of UNMIL brought relative peace and stability. However, the economy needed a push: within limited resources, and in line with the mandate of the Mission, UNMIL troops conducted several quick-impact projects (QIPs) to alleviate the suffering of the population. One such project was the training of electrical technicians by the Pakistani Battalion in 2009 in Tubmanburg.
Participants were to learn to repair electrical appliances, generators and other equipment. The idea was that by having these skills, young people would not have to flee to the capital Monrovia to scramble for jobs that were in short supply. Instead, they could sustain themselves and even flourish in their own community.
On a visit to Tubmanburg nine years later, in January 2018, an UNMIL military observer came across two beneficiaries of the training provided in 2009, Sahr Boston Sundu and Musa Karnley.
Both men had set up their workshops with the knowledge they obtained from the training and were pleased to encounter UNMIL officers returning after nine years to appraise their progress.
Mr. Sahr now owns “God’s Time is the Best Workshop," which he says is the best in Tubmanburg and built most of the doors and windows in the town. He had been trained as a welder/technician by the Pakistani engineers. He said that the training had helped him, his family and the immediate community. He said the economic and social benefits accrued from the training could not be overemphasized. And since his training with UNMIL, he has also trained several other individuals in the same skills, some of whom relocated to neighbouring towns, as well as Monrovia and opened workshops. Currently, his workshop has six trainees. However, he said that lack of funds, tools and working equipment remain challenges limiting expansion and further training opportunities.
Musa Karnley was also trained by the Pakistanis as a welder and a generator technician and is currently the manager of Nakar Garage in Tubmanburg, specializing in generator repair and welding. He said that the training gave him the knowledge and technical skills to do repairs, and had given him an edge over the competition, especially in getting new jobs. His income increased tremendously, he said. He also noted the UNMIL vocational training had catalysed a reduction in petty crimes committed within the town.