New Democrat (Monrovia)

31 January 2013

Liberia: $22 Billion Needed for MDGs

The UN High-Level Panel needs about $22 billion to achieve its water and sanitation objectives in Sub-Saharan Africa during the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to Girish Menon, director of International Programs and Deputy Chief Executive for Water Aid.

He suggested the whooping figure Wednesday during a press briefing following a UN High Level Panel meeting focusing on post-2015 High Level-Panel outreach, where issues of water and sanitation dominated discussions.

"One of the key things we're working on is increasing sanitational financing, and we're working with a number of organizations that are part of the Africa WASH-Compact," Mr. Menon explained.

"There's a huge gap in financing this sector," he warned, adding: "In Sub-Saharan Africa, we need $22bn to be able to achieve the MDGs. But, as of now, we've gotten only $7bn. So, there's a shortfall of $15bn to be able put forth a universal asset for water and sanitation. And, this could take a much larger amount."

To be able to effectively address the issue, Mr. Menon said: "Our role now is to work with governments, and donors, in order to create the political leadership and the capital we need to bring donors' money on the table; to bring international budgets on the table so that, together, we can enhance on the universal asset for water and sanitation."

Nevertheless the challenge to raise the amount, Mr. Menon said there was tremendous opportunity for Liberia to exert its influence, considering its leadership as co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel, not only being unique for the forum but also expected to reach the desired results.

"The purpose of this meeting was to ensure that the voice of Africa is heard. And, so that it translates into a political commitment that goes into a direct impact at the High-Level Panel meeting, he stressed.

"It is fortunate for Liberia that has President Sirleaf as Goodwill Ambassador for WASH-Africa and also co-chair for the HLP" Mr. Menon noted.

"There's tremendous opportunity for us to bring together the voices of 27 countries right to the doorsteps of her Excellency (President Sirleaf), and to the HLP which will have a real influence on what the world will decide as the development goals post-2015," the Water Aid executive added.

Earlier at the same briefing, Liberia's Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods said it was critical for Africa to formulate its own agenda concerning water and sanitation issues, based on lessons learnt from the HLP meeting.

"Water is very important because our children are thirsty, and women and children are also bearing the excruciating difficulties of the lack of water and sanitation, and, our children have been impaired by these developments.

"So, we need to move fast in order to handle these issues. It's time for action," Minister Woods suggested.

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