Introducing the New African Research and Development Agency
The New African Research and Development Agency (NARDA) is a consortium of Liberian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that are engaged in the provision of health, education, agriculture, social and community development services.
Founded in 1987, NARDA serves as an apex organization that represents the interests of the Liberian NGO community to the Government of Liberia and the international community. The focus of the organization is on helping to build the institutional capacities of local NGOs and thus, increase national capability to deliver essential reconstruction services.
Since its inception NARDA had worked to build indigenous organizational effectiveness. Unfortunately, the capacity of NARDA and its membership was severely impacted by the onset of the civil conflict in 1989 and progressively undermined by the way in which humanitarian assistance has come to be administered in Liberia since the nineties.
The NARDA network includes 30 active full-member NGOs and over 50 affiliated rural community- based organizations in five County Networks operating in Bassa, Bong, Nimba, Lofa and Sinoe Counties. The network is governed by its annual assembly of members, the highest decision- making body, and led by its Board of Directors representing member organizations for a two years term. The national secretariat of the NARDA Network is located in Monrovia and works to support the joint network activities of the members and to strengthen the capacities of the Liberian Civil Society as the two core functions of the organization.
Another cornerstone of the joint networking activities are the seven “Sector Information Groups” to coordinate sector related efforts in advocating for policy development and change in seven sectors such as education or health. Significant assistance for these core activities during most of these years have come from the German Church Development Service (EED) and subsequently co-financed by the Dutch Interchurch Cooperation for International Development (ICCO and kerk in actie). NARDA in principle is a non-implementing agency so as not to compete with its members. There are however a number of additional programs that NARDA implements in the role of coordinator and facilitator.
The five main programs are: the coordination of the “Liberia Peacebuilding and Democracy Programme”, the “Civil Peace Service”, the “Pro-Poor Integrity Program”, the “National Civil Society Advisory Committee” and the “Civil Society and Media Leadership Program”. The programs are briefly introduced in this Chapter 1 of this directory. NARDA is the oldest Liberian NGO network with more than 20 years of experience in providing training, technical support and other capacity building measures to its member NGOs all over Liberia. It emerged out of a concern by some Liberian NGOs for the decreasing level of government and international support to local development initiatives in the eighties.
Today, NARDA continues to advocate, not for special, but for fair treatment of Liberian NGOs and the creation of opportunities for building strong local learning structures that are capable to reflect beyond survival and take on the wider issues of Civil Society rebuilding.