It is without doubt that because Africa and Asia comprise countries where a number of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) lag implementation on target come 2015, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was unmistaken to appoint two of three co-chairs of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons from these regions while the third comes from developed Europe.
The eight MDGs range from a commitment to halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. All countries in the world and all of the world's leading development institutions agreed on this blueprint, and therefore galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world's poorest.
But countries in Africa and Asia, unable to achieve several of the MDGs, blamed the lack of adequate resources aggravated by pressure from population explosion.
Leaders of developing countries also blamed developed nations for the plight of populations in Africa and Asia where all objectives of the MDGs will not be fully achieved as the world has three years to the count down.
They accused developed nations of reneging on their repeated pledge at summits including Reykjavik (Iceland), Cancun (Mexico) and Savannah (USA) to offer a fixed percentage of their GDPs in direct development assistance to help developing countries accelerate in achieving their MDGs.
However, developed countries, on the other hand, often defended their wariness, claiming pervasive corruption in Africa squandered domestic resources and development aid funding.
There can be no better painting of the African scenario than the affirmation by Dr. Girish Menon, director of International Programs and Deputy Chief Executive for Water Aid, saying the UN High-Level Panel needs no less than $22 billion to achieve its water and sanitation objectives in Sub-Saharan Africa during the post-2015 MDGs.
If that whooping figure is needed for water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa alone, imaging the needs for the same sector in Asia before assessing the total funding needed for achieving other goals throughout the world.
"One of the key things we're working on is increasing sanitation financing, and we're working with a number of organizations that are part of the Africa WASH-Compact," Dr. Menon told a briefing Wednesday following a UN HLP meeting on post-2015 MDGs outreach that focused water and sanitation issues.
"There's a huge gap in financing universal asset for water and sanitation in Sub-Saharan Africa, where we've received only $7bn of the $22bn we need to be able to achieve the MDGs--leaving a shortfall of $15bn."
As stakeholders in this sector and Water Aid work with governments and donors to solicit funding, Dr. Menon expressed conviction that President Sirleaf's role as Goodwill Ambassador for WASH-Africa and also co-chair for the HLP provided tremendous opportunity for Liberia to exert its influence at the global level.
The forum aimed at ensuring an African Common Position for the HLP concerning water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa.
"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 noted.