Strengthening Independent Media and Freedom of Information in Liberia

Project Summary

Funder: United Nations Democracy Funds (UNDEF)
Key Partners: The University of Liberia & The Press Union of Liberia
Duration: 2021 – 2023
Region: Western Africa
Country: Liberia
Sector: Capacity Building and Civil Society Strengthening 


Our Vision for the Media Environment in Liberia is “Free Press and Safe Spaces.” The project’s premise on the reality that journalists’ ability to report freely on public interest matters is a crucial indicator of democracy. A free press can inform citizens of their leaders’ successes or failures, convey the people’s needs and desires to government bodies, and provide a platform for exchanging information and ideas. When media freedom is restricted, these vital functions break down, leading to poor decision-making and harmful outcomes for leaders and citizens alike.

The project is strengthening independent media and freedom of information in Liberia. Primarily, it is improving the environment for press freedom, journalistic safety, and self-regulation through favorable policies and practices, and enhanced journalists’ and CSOs’ awareness and networking. It is also fostering active citizen demand for transparency of the media and of government activity while bolstering CSOs, media, and government collaborations in accessing and using public data.

In practice, the project has facilitated the establishment of a national journalist peer support network, and trained journalists, and bloggers in legal know-how, and personal safety. It sensitizes civil society, and communities about the statutory provisions of Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution, and the 2010 Freedom of Information Act. It targets 70% of women journalists and media organizations across Liberia and will partner with the Department of Media and Communication of the University of Liberia and the Press Union of Liberia. Each partner is being supported with sub-grants to provide specialized services. The National Support Network of Journalists will sustain the project.

When implemented, the project will address most Liberians’ needs, especially youth, women, and
other vulnerable groups with pessimistic government views: even though the Government does not explicitly marginalize a particularly vulnerable group in Liberia, the recent conflict has weakened trust and social cohesion and resulted in low associational activity levels. It has also led to a lingering fear of authority and a deep desire for peace and social harmony. The project includes activities relevant
to the Covid-19 crisis as it impacts media and freedom of information.

Key facts

Sector: Media and Civil Society Strengthening
Domain: Freedom of Expression and Media Development
Benefiting zone: Liberia
Nature:  Action grant
Duration: 2021 – 2023
Status: Operational