The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

PBPL 85 Meets with Liberia’s National Health Institute Officials

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The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class takes a group photo with Mahmud Johnson ’13, the owner of a palm oil company in Liberia. 

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The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class travels to the home of the Director of USAID in Liberia, Tony Chan, to discuss policy. 

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The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class meets with Tony Chan (standing), the Mission Director of USAID/Liberia, and Kwame Clement (sitting), who does outreach and communication for USAID.

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The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class meets Peter Wilson of the US African Development Foundation who answered a litany of questions on agriculture and land reform.

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The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class meets with the Acting Education Minister, Romelle Horton, during the off-campus portion of the course in Liberia.

After a relaxing weekend at the beach in Robertsport, we headed into our meetings Monday feeling energized. We first met with the director and staff of Liberia’s National Health Institute. These health experts fought the 2014 Ebola crisis from its earliest stages, and we discussed the difficulty the country has retaining medical professionals, the contributions of international aid, and the institute’s plan for the next major crisis. Director of USAID in Liberia Tony Chan later treated us to an economist’s perspective on Liberia’s development path during an evening in his own living room. We ended the day at an Ethiopian restaurant in town enjoying lively discussion and heavenly injera bread.

We began a full day of meetings on Tuesday with multiple officials at the Carter Center, where we learned about their work promoting access to justice and legal counseling throughout the country. Shortly after, Peter Wilson of the US African Development Foundation answered a litany of questions on agriculture and land reform necessary for our group to recommend policies in our memo that will promote key exports such as rice for generations to come. 

On Tuesday afternoon we visited the Ministry of Education to meet with the acting minister and her staff before a special evening with Mahmud Johnson ’13. After graduating from Dartmouth, Johnson returned to Liberia, where he started a palm oil company that exemplifies the kind of entrepreneurship desperately needed in Liberia. Johnson described Liberia’s business climate before detailing the corruption and regulations that often slow his business. He was particularly helpful identifying potential tax reforms that could promote foreign direct investment and increase international commerce. We concluded our evening at his apartment enjoying traditional Liberian gravy, or rice with fish, crawfish, sausages, and many spices. 

Written by Jimmy Fair '18, a 17F PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership course participant

This is part of a series where student reflect on their experiences during the field research portion of the PBPL 85:Global Policy Leadership course. The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class is conducting two weeks of research in Liberia during the off-campus portion of the course, in order to produce a comprehensive policy memo. During Dartmouth’s winter interim, students meet with local policy leaders: politicians, academics, civil society leaders, journalists, business leaders, diplomats, and other in-country experts who help inform their analyses.

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