New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: Ellen Declares Failure

Less than three years to the deadline of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has declared that African leaders have failed to improve women's equality, livelihoods and the maternal mortality of their respective peoples across the continent.

Meantime, the Liberian leader admitted that despite efforts, her dream to reconstruct the roads across the country has not been realized.

"It has taken almost four years from commitment to commencement, and I still can't travel on a decent road from Monrovia to Abidjan or to Freetown or Conakry," the president lamented.

Delivering her opening remarks at the 16th Mid-Term Review Meeting of the International Development Association (MIDA) on Thursday in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire,President Sirleaf said: "There are important failures - in maternal mortality, improved livelihoods, women's equality and environmental sustainability."

But she said significant progress has been made in many countries to achieve most of the Goals adding, "our countries in sub-Saharan Africa rank far behind the other regions."

She told African colleagues that the meeting represented the IDA's 16th Mid-Term Review, which comes on the heels of the global financial crisis, continuing weakness in the Euro zone, and slow growth in China and India.

The financial crisis affecting the world resulted in a credit crunch that delayed investment programs, reduced remittances and affected the cost of exports. IDA's 16th Mid-Term Review is also very significant since it brings us to the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

She said the sub-region is faced with challenges that have been covered by reports.

"Although West and Central Africa possess a high percentage of the world's biodiversity, we are seriously challenged to find effective responses to rising sea levels and changing agriculture production cycles," she noted.

The President added that although she represents the highest potential of women's empowerment, the majority of women in the informal sector, while feeding the nation through farming and marketing, remain largely illiterate, and are caught up in the poverty trap.

"Youth across the continent and young graduates face the stark realization of being unable to find jobs, exposing their vulnerabilities to crime and violence. Perhaps the more relevant aspects of your review to our unfulfilled expectations are the response to crisis and promotion of regional integration," she observed.

President stressed how peace and stability, a necessary component for sustained growth and development, still elude too many African countries.

"Our hopes to achieve the potential for regional integration have been long delayed due to long-standing trading relationships and lack of effective international support," she lamented.

She applauded the recent progress supported by multilateral programs that have led to the West Africa Gas Pipeline and the West Africa Power Pool, but warned that added individual countries must do their part.

"By formulating regional promotion interventions and pooling our resources, we can share the high cost of infrastructure that overcomes some of the hurdles to regional integration. We can promote public/private partnership to lower the burden on public resources," President added.

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