“Liberia went to war over the mismanagement of natural resources. The Freedom of Information Act can help hold people to account and stop it from happening again’” — MySociety
monitors reporting timber resource depletion across Liberia
of Liberia's rainforests have been granted to logging companies since Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became president - Global Witness
August 2014 End date
Liberia is infamous for its former trade in blood diamonds and conflict oil. However, what many people don’t know is that former Liberian president Charles Taylor – convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2012 – funded the last years of his war in Liberia with wood.
Before Taylor’s resignation, a network of concerned citizens, headed by activist Silas Siakor and the Sustainable Development Institute, worked to challenge his ability to use Liberia’s wood without accountability to the people. They risked their lives over several years to document what was going on and convince the UN to put sanctions on Liberian natural resources, cutting Taylor off from this critical source of revenue. Months later, he stepped down from power.
The new Liberian president and 2011 Nobel Laureate, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has reformed the forestry industry and pledged to cut corruption within the government. But so far, change has been slow. In these areas where there is little or no connection with the outside world, or indeed the rest of the country, there is still a danger that exploitation of natural resources will go unmonitored and unchecked. This is My Back Yard aims to change this.
Partnering with the Sustainable Development Institute and Silas Siakor, Platypus Productions has developed a secure mobile reporting application to improve citizen reporting on what is happening to natural resources in rural Liberia.
The simple and secure app, This Is My Backyard (TIMBY) – feeds into a mapping platform, and the project team is then able to create a narrative around these reports and publicise what is happening. These short narratives, combined with creative animations help engage policy-makers and audiences across the country, including through Sustainable Development International’s radio show and advocacy work.
The project shines a light on activities in areas from where stories and information do not usually emerge, and where Liberian citizens have a right to know what is happening. Through this unique mix of solid data gathering and creative storytelling, this projects aims to ensure greater transparency and public accountability for natural resources in the country.
Platypus Productions is a group of creative (coders), writers, designers, filmmakers and marketers who have a passion for storytelling to make change. The team is partnering on this project with the Sustainable Development Institute (Liberia), Big World Cinema (South Africa), Code4Africa (Kenya) and CartoDB (USA).