Created in 2001, Gbarpolu is the newest of the fifteen counties of Liberia, with a population of about 120,000 residents (LISGIS, 2008). Gbarpolu was formerly a part of Lofa County, referred to as Lower Lofa and consisted of two Statutory Districts, Gbarma and Bopolu. Gbarma District comprised Gbarma and Kongba Districts and Bopolu comprised Bopolu, Belle and Bokomu Districts. After gaining county status, Gbarma and Kongba became two separate administrative districts, while Bopolu, Belle and Bokomu became administrative districts correspondingly. Most recently, Gounwolaila, a political subdivision division (clan) of the county, was also created as an administrative district. Bopolu City is the administrative seat of the county.
Gbarpolu is largely concentrated in the commerce of gold, diamond, timber and a forest densely populated with exotic wild species of animals; iron ore and fertile agriculture land are also added to Gbarpolu’s assets. The densely forested County occupies an area of approximately 1,263 square miles, and is located in the Western Region of Liberia. The County has borders with Lofa to the North, Bong to the East, Bomi to the South, and Grand Cape Mount County and Sierra Leone to the West. Amidst the huge endowment of mineral and natural resources, Gbarpolu is considered one of the poorest Counties in Liberia. Most social services and infrastructures in Liberia have often been concentrated in Monrovia, the country’s capital city and a few coastal areas. The remainder of the country, including Gbarpolu County, has been largely neglected. The disparity in living standards between urban dwellers and those in the rural areas continue to widen year after year, one of the factors that is believed to have led to Liberia’s Civil conflict, which claimed nearly a quarter of a million lives and left many homes and infrastructures destroyed.
Gbarpolu County was one of the counties worst affected by the Liberian Civil War. Breaking down the County’s limited systems and structures including; healthcare delivery, educational, and worsening the existing dilapidated unpaved roads and poor transportation, which provided services to the people. Like the rest of the Liberia’s 15 Counties, Gbarpolu situation is a wide ranging priority listing of “compound complex” issues, with limited financial and material resources and human capacity to adequately address. Most of which could be linked to Liberia’s centralized government system, high illiteracy rate and unskilled labor population, corrupt and dishonest leadership structure and high rate of unemployment, especially amongst the youth population.