An international donor conference dubbed Ebola: “From Emergency to Recovery” kicked –off today at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium with the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, making the case for the need to mobilize support to resuscitate the economies and revive the health systems of the three most affected West African countries.
The Liberian leader was chosen by her colleagues from Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea to speak on behalf of the countries in the Mano River Union bloc at a recent summit in Conakry, Guinea.
Analysts argue that while international efforts have reduced the number of new Ebola infections in the region in recent months, it was critical to maintain the momentum to prevent a sharp increase in new cases.
The conference organized by the EU aims to sustain the international mobilization and to plan the next steps in the fight both against the outbreak and the Ebola virus in general.
The Ebola conference is co-chaired by the European Union, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and the Presidents of Guinea and Sierra Leone, the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It brings together all key international players to prepare the actions needed now to bring the number of Ebola infections down to zero - and the measures to help the affected countries recover from the severe blows that the epidemic has dealt their people and economies.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said: "To end Ebola and ensure sustainable development in the affected region is the best way to honour the memory of the victims. I would also like to pay tribute to all those who have been involved in the outbreak response with expertise, dedication and courage. Together with our member states, we have mobilized more than €1.2 billion for the fight against this disease. And we will continue to help until we win the battle against Ebola".
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini added: "Ebola is a challenge that we must continue to tackle collectively, quickly and for the long term, also to help make sure that no other epidemic will have such a devastating impact in the future. Today is the time to do so: we have the opportunity and the responsibility to be effective in our development aid, to promote good governance and invigorate regional cooperation. With its political, diplomatic, humanitarian and financial tools, the EU is part of the solution and a partner".
Today's conference will review progress and outline concrete steps to ensure funds already pledged are made available and maintain international support and make the response more mobile and flexible. It also focuses on promoting regional cooperation, assist countries in West Africa work on prevention, containment and preparedness - to help secure that no other epidemic will have such devastating impact in future, build resilient health systems in the affected countries with enhanced infection control and capacities to adhere to international health regulations, as well as improve governance and accountability in the affected countries.
Priority areas for recovery include resuming and improving basic services (health, education, water, sanitation) and the need to return to sustainable economic development. At the conference today, the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are presenting their assessments and plans for national recovery.
National Indicative Programme
During the Conference, the EU Commissioner for International Co-operation and Development, Neven Mimica, signed the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) "National Indicative Programme "(NIP) for co-operation with Liberia in the 2014-2020 period, which amounts to EUR 279 million. The signing ceremony with H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, and the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, as National Authorising Office (NAO) of the EDF, Amara Konneh, took place at the High-level International Conference on Ebola.
Commissioner Mimica said: “Today’s signature marks a new step forward in EU’s commitment with Liberia to promote stability and reconciliation as well as to promote equitable and inclusive development. The EU is a strong and long-term partner with Liberia and our support will target clear drivers for sustainable development and growth specifically agreed with H.E. President Sirleaf and her team, such as good governance, energy, education and agriculture. I am particularly pleased to note that our key priorities can indeed cover areas where special efforts have to be put in order to remedy the medium and long term consequences of the Ebola epidemic in the country.”
The National Indicative Programme (NIP) focal sectors are aligned to the Government of Liberia Agenda for Transformation (AfT).
The good governance sector will support the overall improvement of the public sector management both in terms of finance management, including revenue generation and fight against corruption. It will address the ability to deliver services as well as focus on the consolidation of peace, democracy, the rule of law and security.
The energy sector aims for the access to sustainable and affordable electricity for the general population and for productive activities.
The education sector will focus on improvement of quality, equity and accessibility of the basic education and of the technical vocational education and training (TVET), as defined by the AfT as a key priority for economic growth and transformation and also, from a rights-based perspective, as part of the process of social inclusion and nation building.
The AfT stresses that agriculture is the largest source of employment and a source of food for its people. The EU support is focusing on increasing agricultural productivity and added value in a sustainable manner from an environmental, economic and social point of view. The access to domestic and international markets shall be improved and nutrition-sensitive production systems shall be developed.