22.04.2008 - Article
Lofa: a pilot project to help forget the war
COOPERATION WITH LIBERIA
Several days before Easter, Walter Fust embarked on one of his last missions as Director-General of the SDC. Immediately upon his return from his last mission to Asia, he travelled to Liberia to dedicate a hospital that was reconstructed with SDC funding, and to meet President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.In order to ensure and to prove once again that efficiency is not an empty word with respect to SDC support, Walter Fust recently returned to Voinjama, the capital of Lofa Province, which borders Guinea and Sierra Leone in the northernmost part of Liberia. He had visited this site in spring 2006 in order to see how Switzerland could help to improve living conditions for the inhabitants of this remote region. Lofa Province is cut off from the rest of the world for 4 of the 5 months of the rainy season.
Two years later, the contrast is stunning. On the ruins of the hospital that had been destroyed during 14 years of warfare, a new facility three times larger has been reconstructed. With a capacity of 150 beds once it becomes fully operational, the new hospital will be the ideal size to meet the needs of the population of Lofa. The new buildings have been constructed by local workers and from local material, under the supervision of a Swiss architect and in collaboration with Liberian architects and engineers. Particular care was taken to ensure that the new complex would be ecologically sound.
In order to facilitate access to this model hospital and improve opportunities for village inhabitants to come to market in the capital, the SDC has also helped to repair the network of secondary access roads to Voinjama. Along with this reconstruction of medical and transportation infrastructure, the SDC created jobs by involving the local population in the rehabilitation of six schools: several thousand inhabitants in 68 villages were employed to produce the necessary school furniture and 15,000 school uniforms.
The reconstruction of the hospital in Voinjama is the first stage in rehabilitating the medical infrastructure of Lofa Province. It will now begin to be used, remaining under the supervision of the SDC in collaboration with the “International Medical Corps”, an American NGO. Once finished – three to five years from now – all installations will be fully taken over by the Ministry of Health of Liberia.
Additional Information and Documents
From 1989 to 2003, Liberia was embroiled in a civil war which cost around 250,000 lives. National in...