MONROVIA – The early war years in Liberia did not only witness violence and horrors. While some Liberians were at each other’s throats, some disemboweling pregnant women, there were some contemplating and effecting innovative moods and programs that brought pride to the country. One of such latter group was the Special Emergency Life Food Program or SELF. As an implementing partner of some international relief agencies that helped a besieged population, SELF was widely credited not only for orderly and peacefully distributing food items to millions of people in Monrovia and beyond, both within homes and displaced centers, but also for organizing communities and neighborhoods and marking houses to the extent that a stranger needed little or no direction from anyone to locate a friend or relative in any part of the city and its environs. The group helped organized community elections and put into a place an Athens-like representative structures that kept communities and citizens to remain highly civilly conscious. In the wake of Government’s stimulus package to address various challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, a package that includes the distribution of rice to needed houses, experts are being sought and SELF is seemingly excavated or reincarnated to bring hand on deck. The Analyst reports.
The Special Emergency Life Food Program (SELF) has been re-activated.
SELF is a Liberian humanitarian organization that, in 1990, developed a unique house numbering system that was used by the UN World Food Program (WFP), for the house-by-house distribution of food aid to the general population of Liberia.
The house numbering system developed by SELF in the 1990s, made it possible for the WFP to target food aid commodities to individual households such that, it was possible to determine which household received how much of what kind of food commodities, when, and how. It was a system that worked well, through the entire six-year period of the general food distribution, 1990-1996.
The decision to re-activate SELF is prompted by the declaration of a National State of Emergency on April 10, 2020, and the lockdown of the general population, as a means of stopping the Coronavirus disease in Liberia.
The Board of Advisors of SELF says that, the Government’s decision to provide emergency food aid to households in the heavily affected communities in Liberia, during the general population lockdown, is a major humanitarian intervention, which should be implemented with speed, precision, transparency, and accountability, as was done in the 1990s during the heat of the civil war.
The SELF Board of Advisors has confirmed that, SELF has improved the house numbering system that was used in the 1990s. The system has been modernized and transformed into an online digital platform – making it possible to conduct identification and enumeration of beneficiaries online; and to produce distribution directories in real time, with basic information such as house numbers; name of individual head-of-households; cell phone number of individual registered head-of-households (where available); the size of each household; how much of each commodity in the relief food-basket is allocated to each registered household; printing of ration coupons for each individual household; and obtaining the date and signature of receipt of the food-aid by each household.
The SELF Board of Advisors has further confirmed that, with the improved unique house numbering system, it is even possible, using the global positioning system (GPS), to track the individual households that are enumerated and registered to receive the food-aid; and to validate the distribution online, through use of SMS messaging on cell phones, where available.
Some thirty years ago, during the height of the Liberian civil war, we witnessed first-hand, the full extent of what it means when a human being is denied food and a place for quiet rest without the fear of physical danger. We have seen what happens to the human spirit when circumstances condemn a person, to the same level of an animal whose life is expandable; and must scavenge for food and safety. We realized that the Power that created human beings, did not intend life to be so dreadful and hopeless.
SELF brings together like-minded individuals who, out of conscience, seek to advocate for, promote, and facilitate the CAUSE that: Every human being should have access to, at least one decent meal per day, and a place for quiet rest without the fear of physical danger.
The Board of Advisors of SELF, has directed the Program Director of the organization, Mr. Michael C. G. George, to make available the technical capacity and know-how of the organization, to the COVID-19 Household Food Support Program (COHFSP), under a public-private-partnership (PPP) arrangement, so as to enhance prospects for success of the Government’s Coronavirus emergency management effort.