Civil Society and Media Leadership Program in Liberia (CSML)
The Civil Society and Media Leadership Program in Liberia provides resources to local civil society organizations and independent media to engage the population in inclusive, peaceful and sustainable development.
A five-year program launched in 2010, CSML is improving the skills, performance and perceptions of Liberian civil society organizations (CSOs) through training, mentoring, and small grant projects. Simultaneously, the project is working with the Liberian media industry to build capacity and professionalize both individual journalists and media outlets.
IREX works with seven Liberian Main Partners - New Africa Research and Development Agency (NARDA), West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Liberia, Development Education Network Liberia (DEN-L), Liberia Media Center (LMC) and Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC), and two INGOS, Carter Center and Social Impact - to implement the CSML program, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
• Increase CSOs’ organizational capacity to represent their members’ needs
• Strengthen CSOs’ capacity to monitor government policy, performance and expenditures
• Improve CSO reputations among government and citizenry
• Ensure independent media operates more professionally
• Diversify listening audience and improve reach for Community Radio stations
• Encourage use of SMS technology between people and their leaders
• Advance access to information as a recognized right
• Support regional CSOs and CRSs in achieving institutional and financial sustainability
Institutional Strengthening and Advocacy Training: IREX has partnered with five national CSOs (NARDA, YMCA, WONGOSOL, DEN-L and WANEP). The partners benefit from continuous mentoring and training and receive grants to train and mentor a total of 60 CSOs and 19 radio stations throughout seven counties in Liberia. These CSOs participate in trainings in gender and youth mainstreaming, advocacy, anti-corruption, reconciliation, project management cycle, proposal and report preparation, and other organizational development topics.
Grants Activities: IREX provides small grants to CSOs to enable them to host community dialogues and forums that bring together local and national government representatives, citizens, and civil society to discuss community priorities and encourage transparency. Almost all CSO grants activities involve community radio stations (CRSs) in planning and execution and are carried live on the local community radio.
Promote justice and accountability through capacity building of local and traditional leaders: IREX partners with The Carter Center’s Access to Justice team to provide training and support to local chiefs, women and youth leaders to enhance their engagement and understanding of dispute resolution strategies.
Provide Targeted Training and Mentoring to Community Radio Station (CRS) Partners: In partnership with the Liberia Media Center (LMC), IREX works with 19 community radio stations to improve their organizational and financial sustainability, enhance their outreach to the community, and improve and diversify their content.
Specialized Consulting and Business Development Initiative: Under this initiative IREX works with the Liberia Media Center (LMC) to improve basic journalism skills of reporters and develop their capacity to report in three key thematic areas: politics or elections, gender sensitivity and conflict and peace.
Women’s Media Initiative: Implemented by the Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC), the WMI elevates the status of women in media through skills building, improving the organizational development of women media development organizations and ensuring women’s access to information.
Sol Plaatje Media Leadership Training Program: IREX developed a partnership with the Sol Plaatje Institute to provide targeted training on media leadership and management to selected Fellows.
High School to Journalism: Reporters in Liberia typically enter the media profession directly from high school without any formal training or education in journalism. IREX has partnered with the Mass Communications Department at the University of Liberia to provide training for a select group of high school students who express interest and motivation to pursue a career in journalism.
Online Media Resources Clearing House: The website features articles posted by Liberian journalists capturing contemporary issues in seven counties, a database of resources including policy documents and reports, and a portal for social media and interactive discussion.
SMS Initiative to Link Citizens to their Leaders: The SMS platform allows citizens to text into a regional hub located at a local radio station to report incidences of corruption, provide updates on government funded programs and projects, and participate in opinion polls.
Advance the Right to Access to Information: IREX partners with The Carter Center (TCC) to increase awareness and engagement with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law.