Wednesday, 13 April 2022
Kudos to our supply partner Wessex International who's generous support of a project to purchase a grass topper has had a huge impact upon remote communities in Liberia.
Liberia is located on the western coast of Africa. From the air, the lush green landscape gives the impression of a beautiful holiday destination, however, for the country’s 5 million population it is far from paradise.
Ranking 174 out 187 on the United Nations Development Index, poverty is rife. Infectious disease runs rampant in the country and the majority of Liberians have little or no access to education. Civil war has decimated Liberia’s infrastructure resulting in many living in desperate need.
However, the problems do not stop there. Those seeking to deliver aid and transformational development to this incredibly needy nation must, for six-months of the year, face almost unsurpassable challenges.
In July alone, Monrovia, the wettest capital city in the world, sees almost double the rainfall that London does in a year. In rural areas, this wet season wreaks havoc. Liberia’s unpaved roads quickly become quagmires that are impossible to travers. Transport rapidly bogs down, leaving much of the country’s population isolated and cut off from outside assistance. With their already dire situation exasperated by lack of access, hope quickly fades for the sick or weak in these hard-to-reach communities.
Travelling on Liberia’s roads is extremely dangerous and time-consuming. This why the Mission Aviation Fellowship has been operating in the country since 2015.
MAF aircraft serve over 80 NGOs and grass level enterprises who are working to bring hope to Liberia’s poorest. Organisations who, prior to the introduction of MAF’s services, could spend days travelling to reach the remote communities they serve. Now, thanks to your support these journeys are often reduced to a matter of hours, saving time, money and in many cases lives.
Grass topper helps a community cut off from help:
Overland travel into the small isolated community of Cesstos located deep in Rivercess county is almost impossible during the wet season. Deep mud, along with dilapidated and dangerous bridges means that those seeking to help must often risk their lives to do so.
Due to the climate the grass at Cesstos airstrip grows incredibly quickly, hiding a multitude of hazards that could prevent aircraft from making a safe landing. Maintenance by the local community using hand tools was untenable and consequently, air operations had to be suspended. For charities like Last Mile Health who provide essential medical services, this left little option but to face the long, gruelling, and dangerous overland journey.
In September 2021 Wessex International generously supported a project to purchase a grass topper to ensure that remote communities in the Rivercess County could again connect to the outside world, accessing MAF flights.
A mower that cuts time:
Once the mower had been purchased, the process of getting it into programme was hampered by numerous delays due to covid related transport issues. However, even once it had arrived at Spriggs Payne Airport in Monrovia, as if to underscore the extent to which MAF’s services are relied upon, the topper could not be delivered to Cesstos until after the rainy season.
In late November 2021 the mower made the final leg of an almost 4,000 mile journey from the UK to the airstrip. Safely loaded onto MAF’s pick-up it was driven the 150 mile journey from Monrovia which took almost 7 hours.
Once delivered, progress was quick and on 18th December MAF’s C208 5X-SCO was able to safely land at the newly reinstated airstrip, effectively re-establishing Cesstos’s link with the outside world.
In stark contrast to the 7 hour overland journey, the aircraft covered the distance in just 40 minutes.
“One of many important things we do here in Liberia is the opening or reopening of old airstrips. This means we can extend our ability to reach more and more remote and isolated areas. Recently, I inspected and landed on an old airstrip repaired to a safe standard to allow MAF aircraft to land. This involved a good look from the air and then walking the length of the runway to inspect it in closer detail.”
MAF Pilot—Steven Biggs, upon landing at Cesstos airstrip.
“We are so grateful to Wessex International for their partnership and generosity with the AT-110 grass topper. Thanks to their support the remote community of Cesstos again has access to the services and supplies that we, in the minority world so often can take for granted.”