UN Strategizes to Curtail Future Catastrophes

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Major global political and economic organizations, including the United Nations, World Bank, European Union, the United States and the World Health Organization, were constrained to admit that the Ebola Virus Disease, which ravaged the Mano River Union (MRU) killing thousands of people, caught the world unawares and unprepared.

This led to devastating effects on the worst affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—whose  economies were shattered, social cohesion broken and national securities under severe risks with its rapid and for a period uncontrollable spread. The outbreak became a global threat with WHO belatedly announcing a global health emergency.

 In this connection, the world governing bodies, led by the UN, have begun preparing to ensure that the world does not witness an epidemic of such nature again.

In furtherance of this, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has announced the appointment of a High-Level Panel on Lessons Learned. The HLP is being chaired by the Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete. The UN boss said the establishment of the panel is in order to avoid having to face such an emergency as Ebola again.

Mr. Moon said, “As we look forward, I call on the international community to support the recovery and peace-building efforts in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.  These efforts must also recognize the fragility of these countries’ transitions from past conflicts and instability to sustainable peace and development.”

Secretary Moon made the disclosure at the World Bank Group (WBG)-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings on Friday. The summit was attended by an array of leaders of major international institutions, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, and Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma. The MRU leaders presented to the global development leaders a sub-regional plan.

At the Spring Meeting, the WBG announced that it would provide at least US$650 million during the next 12 to 18 months to help Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone recover from the devastating social and economic impact of the Ebola crisis and advance their long-term development needs. 

This new pledge brings the institution’s total financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts to date to US $1.6 billion.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, at an Ebola Summit, announced the new funding from the International Development Association (IDA), the WBG’s fund for the poorest countries. 

Speaking on behalf of her colleagues whose nations were  worst affected by the virus disease, President Sirleaf informed the audience at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. that the three countries had resolved to take on the more important challenge of economic recovery through the sub-regional body. This decision was taken by the three Presidents at an Extraordinary Summit of the Mano River Union (MRU), held in Conakry, Guinea early this year.

“We have, therefore, formulated a sub-regional social-economic recovery program to ensure that our States return to stability and prosperity,” she said.

This plan, according to the Liberian leader, is focused on nine key areas, which include  Health (sanitation and hygiene); Gender; Youth Development; Social Protection; Agriculture (fisheries and food security); Trade and Private Sector Development; Infrastructure (roads, energy and water); Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Governance (peace and security and program management).

The new funding is on top of the nearly US$1 billion that the WBG previously committed for the Ebola emergency response and early recovery efforts from the IDA (US$518 million) and International Finance Corporation (US$450 million). It also comes on top of US$2.17 billion in debt relief for the three worst Ebola affected countries.

In line with the three countries’ recovery plans, the five priority areas for the additional IDA fund include: strengthening health systems and frontline care; agriculture; education; cash transfer and other social protection programs; lifesaving infrastructure such as electricity, water, sanitation and roads.

The fund will be used to develop a regional disease surveillance system across West Africa that will help prevent or contain future epidemics.

Major development partners, including the United States, the European Union, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, China, Japan and the African Development Bank, pledged to fully back efforts to contain the Ebola virus, as well as promote sustainable economic recovery and reconstruction. 

Meanwhile, over US$1 billion was pledged by various institutions during the summit for the sub-regional social-economic recovery plan.

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