Securing $1.8 billion in U.S. assistance for Liberia
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Riva Levinson and KRL have represented the government of the Republic of Liberia in Washington since Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s 2005 election, when she became the first democratically elected female head of state in Africa. As a poor country emerging from two decades of civil war, Liberia faced many challenges.
Former President Sirleaf (2006 – 2018) inherited a collapsed economy, an external debt load six times the country’s GDP, weak political institutions, and decimated infrastructure. According to President Sirleaf, “Liberia was at the bottom of a very deep hole,” and urgently needed to fortify the fragile peace and deliver economic dividends to the people.
The KRL approach
Recognizing Liberia’s historic relationship with the United States, KRL worked to position the newly consolidated peace as a priority for the U.S., translating the goodwill and political support for ending the war into long-term development assistance. Over the course of a decade, KRL worked with the Liberian Embassy in Washington and other government agencies to maximize bilateral resources.
As a result of KRL’s advocacy, Liberia received $1.8 billion in total U.S. foreign assistance from 2006 - 2017. The country benefited from an AFRICOM program, a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact, Feed the Future, Power Africa, and the unprecedented Ebola recovery efforts in 2014 and beyond. Even when the U.S. foreign assistance budget suffered deep cuts, Liberia maintained bilateral support. These foreign assistance programs allowed Liberia to make a stronger economic recovery over the past decade than many of its peers.