Africa: Sirleaf – Poverty Will Not Be Eradicated From Africa Unless…

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has asserted that poverty will not be eradicated from Africa unless nations on the continent act intentionally to reduce inequity within and between their respective societies. The Liberian leader’s assertions were contained in her recent opening remarks at the 16th Mid-Term Review Meeting of the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

Said President Johnson-Sirleaf: “Unless we act intentionally to reduce inequity within and between our societies, we will not be able to eradicate poverty.” She stressed that the changing climate will have varying effects on different regions as countries in Africa plan and implement their development agendas, but the Liberian President stated that: “we must now intentionally account for climate change,” adding, “Growth must be equitable. Women’s participation in our economic, social and political life must become an integral part of our development agenda.”

She indicated that the IDA’s 16th Mid Term Review Meeting was very significant since it brought participants to the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “Less than three years remain until the 2015 deadline to achieve the MDGs. We can count successes, including the reduction of poverty, but there are important failures – in maternal mortality, improved livelihoods, women’s equality and environmental sustainability.

Moreover, although significant progress has been made in many countries, and several are likely to achieve most of the Goals, our countries in sub-Saharan Africa rank far behind the other regions. This is why this Review is of utmost importance, and I am glad that Abidjan has been chosen as the venue. It is here, in our sub-region, that we face the greatest challenges that have been covered by your Progress Report,” said President Johnson-Sirleaf

She averred that although West and Central Africa possess a high percentage of the world’s biodiversity, people in these parts of Africa are seriously challenged to find effective responses to rising sea levels and changing agriculture production cycles.

Listen to President Johnson-Sirleaf: “Although I represent the highest potential of women’s empowerment, the majority of our women in the informal sector, while feeding the nation through farming and marketing, remain largely illiterate and caught in the poverty trap.”

She added: “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. Peace and stability, a sine qua non for sustained growth and development, still elude too many of our 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.”

The Liberian president applauded recent progress supported by multilateral programs that have led to the West Africa Gas Pipeline and the West Africa Power Pool, indicating that: “But in Liberia, for example, although we have significant commitments that will help reconstruct roads and build new bridges and bring electricity to some of our communities, 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.”

“But individual countries must do our 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.

I am pleased that I have been appointed by the UN Secretary-General as one of the three co-Chairs of the High-Level Panel on the Post-MDG Framework. The themes of IDA 16 are in consonance with the emerging framework of what the post-MDG development agenda should include. We continue to emphasize, however, that there are still three years left before the deadline, and all stakeholders’ governments, multilateral institutions and private sector partners – must accelerate our efforts to accomplish that which can be achieved in the remaining years,” she among others stated.