Fragility and instability in Liberia: Understanding the root causes and potential implications

Project Active from to State Effectiveness and State

Following the end of the civil war in 2003, the Liberian government focused on rebuilding state institutions, provision of basic services and infrastructure, ensuring good governance and rule of law, and reviving the economy among others.

The economy had grown to 8.7% before it plummeted to 0.7% in 2014 due to the twin shocks of the fall in commodity prices and the outbreak of Ebola – wherein the mining sector contributed over 70% to GDP growth. About 35% of the total population are classified as economically active.

Despite the above gains and opportunities, the features of fragility and potential instability remain prominent. Poverty is endemic with about 70% of the population classified as multi-dimensionally poor. There is high youth unemployment, high levels of corruption, and high inflation rate (hovering around 28%) thus leading to a high cost of living. There is little or no trust in the judiciary and potential for instability.

This study investigates the root causes of the country’s historic and contemporary fragility through the lenses of legitimacy, capacity, security, the private sector and resilience by examining:

  • The ways in which the historic root causes of fragility, instability, and conflict could be addressed in the post-war efforts, and therefore minimise the degree to which they may persist in the contemporary period.
  • The way current approaches to development in Liberia could take cognisance of, and the ways in which they may not be compromised by, any enduring and unaddressed drivers of fragility.
  • The role of the private sector in promoting resilience or fuelling fragility.
  • Any sub-regional comparative themes that may emerge as options to be explored.