House Directs Budget Committee to Add Cotton Tree Health Center to Budget

HARBEL, Margibi – After a request from the leadership of the District Development Council of Margibi’s second electoral district, the House of Representatives has directed its Budget Committee to reinstate the Cotton Tree Health Center and the R. S. Caulfield High School in the 2018-2019 national budget.

In the communication read to the House’s plenary, the council pleaded to members of the House of Representatives to factor the two institutions into the budget to help sustain their operations. The Cotton Tree Health Center was last included in the 2013/2014 national budget, when it received US$24,992. It was since omitted from future budgets. It has been supported by Christian Aid International and is staffed by mostly volunteers but health workers there say the facility needs more financial support.

Rep. Ben Fofana of Margibi’s fourth district raised the motion to include the two facilities into the upcoming budget. The motion faced some objections, but it was finally endorsed by the legislative body.

The Cotton Tree Health Center was built to cater to the health needs of thousands of residents in Cotton Tree and surrounding communities. The district’s former lawmaker, Ballah Zayzay, included the facility as one of his accomplishments during his recent failed campaign, noting that the facility was built because of his advocacy.

Several residents of communities near the facility welcomed the news that the facility would be placed in the budget. Augustine Brooks, a civil society advocate, expressed optimism at hearing the news.

“Majority of the people who live in this part of the district do not see the facility as an option when they are ill,” he said. “The facility has no laboratory; a situation that makes it difficult for medical practitioners to diagnose the cause of illness.”

Brooks said residents of the district regularly go to the Owensgroove Clinic, which is located in Grand Bassa’s first district.

“I happy to hear that. Many times, when I come for treatment, they can give me small medicine and the nurses always say no medicine,” said Lorpu Tokpah, a resident of Barclay Farm, a community adjacent the health facility. “I don’t have money to buy drugs. My only hope is this clinic; it is the poor people hospital.”

At a recent gathering in the district, Rep. Ivar Kokulo Jones of Margibi’s second district presented a deed of land purchased to expand the health facility. He presented the deed to the chairman of the development council.

“As part of my campaign promises, I remain committed to promises made in developing the district. My team and I will do everything in ensuring that the district is developed,” Jones added.

The other institution approved for funding in the budget was the R. S. Caulfield Senior High School in Unification City. The school, which is adjacent to the Roberts International High School, has no library. Established in 1972, the school also lacks an auditorium and sufficient classroom to shelter its over 1,500 students.

Margibi’s Sen. Oscar Cooper recently earmarked the construction of a three-classroom building on the campus of the school as part of the Legislative Support Project. The project is being implemented by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment.

R.S. Caulfield and the Harbel Multilateral High School are the two public high schools in Margibi second district. The district has more than ten privately run high schools.

Public schools and health facilities that are not listed separately in the budget do not receive any funds from the government. Rather, their staff are usually listed on the payroll and they are entitled to distributions of classroom materials in the cases of schools, and drugs, in the cases of health facilities. However, those distributions are often irregular and facilities must sometimes charge fees to be able to fund their operations.

Featured photo by Emmanuel Degleh

Jefferson Daryoue

Jefferson is the news director at Peace FM in Harbel. He is also a former student leader of the Margibi University Student Association at the University of Liberia.

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