161 partner organisations
Liberia, at only 69,200sq kilometres, is smaller than England. Only 6% of its 10,600km roads are paved which, combined with an average of over 4.6 metres of rainfall a year, makes overland travel very challenging as vehicles get stuck in deep mud.
Created to receive freed slaves from North America, the country was christened ‘Liberia’ in the 1820s by its American colonists. In recent years, the country has struggled to find the freedom its name implies. A 14-year civil war, which ended in 2003, claimed more than 250,000 lives and left the country in economic ruin. Today, around 54% of the population live below the poverty line.
The terrible impact of the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic on the country is likely to be felt for many years to come. The drastic quarantine measures resulted in an economic collapse, while a total of 5,900 children lost one or both parents in the outbreak, and there is now little provision for them. The shutdown of schools resulted in many students either losing a year of their education or dropping out of school altogether. Healthcare provision in the country continues to struggle in Ebola’s aftermath: nearly 200 medical workers who remained at their posts during the crisis paid with their lives. Replacing those doctors and nurses has been difficult.
For aid agencies, development experts and Christian mission groups, the nation’s terrible road network creates a very significant barrier to overcome when seeking to reach rural areas where the majority of Liberians live.
MAF began flying in Liberia in 2015 as the country's only humanitarian flight service, and serves around 160 NGOs and mission groups, as well as the many local churches already working to bring hope to Liberia’s poorest. Organisations, whose staff spent long days travelling to reach remote locations, greatly value the four shuttle flights, in particular to the south east of the country, flown each week. Destinations include Cape Palmas and Harper Airport, with stops along the way if needed.
A large number of airstrips in Liberia are debilitated and unused following the civil war. One of MAF’s priorities is to renovate and reopen a number of them so that more communities can be accessed and receive help.
Our Liberia programme will also play a vital role in the setup and support of basing staff in Guinea this year. With the completion of the hangar at James Spriggs Payne airport a more regional role supporting other MAF programmes in West Africa is also possible.