Civil Society and Media Leadership Program in Liberia (CSML)

Civil Society and Media Leadership Program in Liberia (CSML)


The Civil Society and Media Leadership Program in Liberia provided 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, the program shifted its focus during the Ebola crisis. By working closely with civil society organizations and media outlets, the program facilitated public health education and prevented the spread of misinformation during the outbreak.

The program improved the skills, performance, and perceptions of Liberian civil society organizations through training, mentoring, and small-grant projects. Simultaneously, the program worked with the Liberian media industry to build capacity and professionalize both individual journalists and media outlets.


  • Increase civil society organizations' capacity to represent their members’ needs and respond to the Ebola crisis
  • Strengthen organizations' capacity to monitor government policy, performance, and expenditures
  • Improve organizations' reputations among government and citizenry
  • Ensure independent media operates more professionally
  • Diversify listening audiences 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 organizations in achieving institutional and financial sustainability
With a chain of 1,000 community leaders in 13 counties, [IREX] identified several critical gaps in the fight against Ebola. We ask [you] to... assist us in our planning process. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Project Activities

  • Institutional strengthening and advocacy training: IREX partnered with five national civil society organizations. The partners benefited from continuous mentoring and training and received grants to train and mentor a total of 60 civil society organizations and 19 radio stations throughout seven counties in Liberia.
  • Responding to the Ebola crisis: IREX worked with 30 community radio stations to produce jingles, dramas, and skits that highlighted Ebola-related information and initiatives, including UNICEF’s resources in child maternal health, immunization, nutrition, water, sanitation, and peacebuilding.
  • Grant activities: IREX provided small grants to civil society organizations to host community dialogues and forums. The events brought together local and national government representatives, citizens, and civil society to discuss community priorities and encourage transparency.
  • Promote justice and accountability: IREX partnered 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 with and understanding of dispute resolution strategies.
  • Train and mentor community radio stations: In partnership with the Liberia Media Center, IREX worked 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: IREX worked with the Liberia Media Center to improve reporters' basic journalism skills and strengthen their capacity to report on three thematic areas: politics and elections, gender sensitivity, and conflict and peace.
  • Women’s Media Initiative: Implemented by the Liberia Women Media Action Committee, the initiative elevated the status of women in media through building skills, strengthening organizations, and ensuring women’s access to information.
  • Sol Plaatje media leadership training program: IREX partnered 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 entered the media profession directly from high school without any formal training or education in journalism. IREX partnered with the Mass Communications Department at the University of Liberia to provide training for a select group of high school students to pursue a career in journalism.
  • Clearinghouse of online media resources: The website featured 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: The SMS platform allowed 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 participate in opinion polls.
  • Advance the right to access information: IREX partnered with the Carter Center to increase awareness of and engagement with the Freedom of Information Law.


  • Dara Lipton
    Deputy Director, Communities and Governance Practice; Project Director, Comunitatea Mea


With funding from the United States Agency for International Development, IREX worked with seven main Liberian partners:

  • New Africa Research and Development Agency
  • West Africa Network for Peacebuilding
  • Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia
  • Young Men’s Christian Association of Liberia
  • Development Education Network Liberia
  • Liberia Media Center
  • Liberia Women Media Action Committee 

IREX also worked with two international NGOs: Carter Center and Social Impact.


Dara Lipton,