Monday, October 09, 2006

The National Human Development Report (Part 2)

Laying in bed all day yesterday, I had occasion to read the entire Human Development Report for Liberia 2006 (so that you wouldn't have to). It's all about rebuilding human capacity for development. Here's the pdf.

This passage is brutally honest, keeping in mind that the document was written almost entirely by Liberians:

Another major cost is the switch that occurs in mindsets and value systems of people who have suffered prolonged violent conflict. The 14-year conflict eroded family and societal values, creating a situation of widening gaps between the status and responsibilities of children and their parents, and between people’s behaviour and societal norms. The traditional practices of protecting collective well-being, in which communities and individuals pool resources to realize their potential, have become lost to a pernicious sense of individualism.

The behavioural shift that resulted from the conflict is not unique to Liberia. It is a common phenomenon during protracted conflicts and one that is very difficult to reverse once it has occurred. “Once the reputation for honest interaction has been lost, the incentive for honest behaviour in the future is greatly weakened and the cost of enforcing transactions increases exponentially.”

A switch also occurred between honesty and corruption, and between hard work and laziness. Mischief and the search for ‘values’ not obtainable through honest labour seem to be a new way of life. Almost everybody in both public and private sector enterprises seems to be engaged in schemes of various types for personal interests at the expense of the corporate interest. Corruption is rampant in almost every sphere of national life, disrupting plans and programmes to support the restoration of basic social services and jobs.
That passage in red is something that I have witnessed on an almost daily basis, and something which needs to be discussed at every level of society, on the radio, in the newspaper, in congress and in every village everywhere, for years and years to come. This is not easy stuff, and I'd love to hear what our Liberian readers think about it.


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