Supporting Liberia's Reconstruction and Development

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's inauguration as the President of Liberia in January 2006 marked a watershed in the country's tumultuous history. Twenty-five years of corruption, misrule, and civil war under Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, and successive interim governments had left Liberia in ruins. President Sirleaf, the first African woman to be elected head of state, has energetically set the country on a new course, putting accountability, transparency, good governance, and economic opportunities for all Liberians at the center of her agenda. CGD advised President Sirleaf as she prepared to take office on issues ranging from debt relief to donor relations.

Former CGD Senior Fellow Steve Radelet and others from the Center advised President Sirleaf and senior members of her administration in December 2005, the month before she took office. Their work included aid coordination, aid quality, debt relief, poverty reduction and growth strategies, capacity building, and civil service reform, among other issues.

CGD support to the Liberian government also included helping to arrange the Scott Family Liberia Fellowships. From its launch in 2007 to its end in 2010, the Scott Family Liberia Fellows Program provided an opportunity for five or six young professionals to work for one year as special assistants to top officials in Liberia. The program was funded by a generous $1 million contribution from the family of CGD chairman and co-founder Edward W. Scott, Jr.

This level of engagement in a developing country is unusual for CGD because the Center's primary focus is on improving the policies and practices of the rich world towards development. In addition to being of use to Liberia, the relationship provided CGD with a unique opportunity to observe the complex interactions between donors and a developing country in the early stages of recovery from conflict.