World Bank ‘More Than Happy To Help Liberia’–As Konneh Pushes Country’s Case

“We will be more than happy to help Liberia,” World Bank Country Manager for Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone, Mr. Yusufu Crookes, has assured.

Making the disclosure last Wednesday in Washington, D.C. during high level stakeholders meeting with donors and the visiting Liberian delegation, Crookes disclosed the Bank will work with the Government to develop a framework through which the Bank’s supports would be channeled.

The commitment was in response to a detailed summation of postwar Liberia’s financial growth and development challenges from Finance Minister Amara Konneh.

The Bank pledged to leverage financial resources needed to jumpstart the country’s medium term development agenda, the Agenda for Transformation (AfT).

The Bank official lauded the Liberian Government for opening up its fiscal space, indicating that such a bold move has reduced the risks associated with financial assistance, especially in the form of loans.

The Liberian delegation has been making a strong case for the Bank’s intervention in supporting the country’s new development agenda under the AfT by asking for an increase in and frontloading of Liberia’s International Development Association’s (IDA) credit allocations for fiscal year 2014 (FY14).

During the deliberations Finance Konneh, who heads the delegation that includes the chairmen of the two Ways, Means and Finance Committees of the National Legislature, stressed Liberia’s urgent need for financial resources to ensure the successful implementation of the AfT that currently has a funding gap of US$2 billion.

Konneh emphasized that the Government of Liberia’s main priority is the rehabilitation of the country’s energy and transport infrastructure which are integral components of Liberia’s macroeconomic development strategy.

He also used the occasion to review progress on financing current infrastructure projects as well as propose a $10 million Economic Growth Stabilization Fund for social contingencies related to ongoing
and future projects such as the increasing cost of resettlement action plans to compensate those who occupy the right of way.

He also showcased the AfT at a session attended by key stakeholders from the donor community to build support and mobilize resources for the five-year plan.

Minister Konneh further underscored the urgent need for restoring the energy sector which is vital to sustainable growth and development, cognizant of the benefits that developed roads and access to
electricity can bring to the developing nations, particularly in a post- country like Liberia.

He acknowledged that a viable economy will be better sustained with the restoration of affordable energy, especially with the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro, which he said will register
unfettered economic output that will benefit all Liberians and investors.

During the meetings, Konneh pushed Liberia’s case with the World Bank on financing the paving of the Ganta-Fishtown highway, a crucial link to the south of the country and to eastern Cote d’Ivoire on which feasibility studies would begin next fiscal year. He maintained that to keep the Liberian economy booming again, investing in the energy and transport sector was critical.

Konneh and delegation will be holding several bilateral meetings with main stakeholders, including the Saudi Government, to seek support in the form of bilateral grants and concessional financing. “We will mobilize resources from lenders because we cannot finance our AfT programs domestically,” said the
Minister, who also hinted that the delegation will make similar case to the IMF for flexibility in fast-tracking the allocation of funds to Liberia’s development agenda.

Additionally, he will be pledging to the IMF, on behalf of the Government, commitment to undertake additional key structural reforms within the financial management systems. It is worth noting that prior
to his departure for the Spring Meetings, the Minister issued a Policy Brief which included the setting up of a SoE Reporting Unit to ensure compliance with the PFM Law, the creation of a Project Management
Office to work with Ministries and Agencies (M&As) in developing projects with high economic yields and the introduction of a Treasury Single Account, to ensure prudent liquidity management of government’s finances.
US$260 Billion Lost To
Poor Sanitation Yearly
Liberia Surrenders US$17.5M
One out of every three people in the world today have no toilet, the World Bank said today Friday (Feb 19). Economic losses from lack of access to sanitation, amount to an estimated US$260 billion annually, more than the entire gross domestic product of Chile.  

Without proper toilets or sewage systems, many people in developing countries, including Liberia, go to the bathroom in rivers or fields, unknowingly spreading germs that cause diarrheal disease – the second leading cause of death in children under five – in their own communities, as well as those downstream.

“We have to fix sanitation if we want to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost the incomes of the poorest 40 percent,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. “From my background in health, I know well the magnitude of the problem. This is an absolutely critical intervention. The impact of inadequate sanitation lies at the core of so many barriers to prosperity faced by poor people – health, education, environment, wealth, equity, and dignity. The return on investment is high, especially for the poor.”

Diarrheal disease kills thousands of children each day. Children who survive often miss school due to illness.  Having no access to sanitation renders women and girls particularly vulnerable, as they risk personal security seeking private locations, or drop out of school at puberty as there are no sanitation facilities.
Like other parts of the world, Liberia’s economy loses US$17.5 million (2.0 percent of GDP) each year due to poor sanitation, according to a report released by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) in 2012.
The desk study, Economic Impacts of Poor Sanitation in Africa – Liberia, found that the majority (48 percent) of these costs come from the annual premature death of 3,000 Liberians from diarrheal disease, including 1,800 children under the age of 5, nearly 90 percent of which is directly attributable to poor water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Health-related costs accounted for about 40.6 percent of the total economic costs, while access time and productivity losses accounted for about 11.3 percent.
Poor sanitation also leads to costs valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars every year by damaging health, environment, and tourism.

The World Bank is the largest multilateral financier of water and sanitation development.  In FY11, the World Bank committed US$4 billion to water supply and sanitation.  This is expected to help 9 million people access improved water supply and sanitation services.

“We support the effort for access to proper sanitation by 2025 for everyone,” Kim said.  “We can achieve this goal and transform the lives of billions of people over the next several years.  It will take real commitment and action from the heads of state of our client countries, as well as collaboration with all of our partners in civil society and the private sector.  We can do this.”

To achieve this goal, the World Bank will take a global leadership role to advocate that countries make the required investments to meet their sanitation targets and eliminate open defecation, which affects the poorest 40 percent in these countries; work with domestic and global private sector and other partners to scale up efforts to meet demand from households and communities for sanitation products and services, moving from open defecation to improved latrines to improved waste management; and work closely with countries where open defecation is most prevalent to ensure that the World Bank’s lending and evidence-based knowledge is supporting improved sanitation service delivery, such as through effective monitoring and use of data.
The announcement coincides with a World Bank-IMF Spring meetings side event on investing in sanitation and on the heels of a call by Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Jan Eliasson last month to end open defecation by 2025.  

“I am determined to mobilize major players, on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, to boost sanitation efforts and end open defecation by 2025,” said Eliasson. “I applaud the World Bank’s commitment in this area, and look forward to working closely with the World Bank as part of the partnership between our organizations.  We have less than 1,000 days of action before the 2015 target date for the Millennium Development Goals. While we have made great improvements towards all the Goals, sanitation is the target where we have made least progress, and we urgently need to scale up investment.  This is an issue of fundamental human dignity, and the health of people and the environment. “

“Poor sanitation is often ignored because people don’t like to talk about it, much less act on it, “ said Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank. “But poor sanitation is a major cause of diarrheal disease and there is increasing evidence of its link to childhood stunting, which deprives the poorest and most vulnerable from opportunities for a better life. It’s time to act.”

The side event on sanitation also included discussion by Jim McHale, Senior Vice President at American Standard of a US$1.50 toilet, affordable for many of the world’s poor, designed by one of the world’s largest producers of toilets and bathroom fixtures.  

The World Bank is exploring ways of scaling up access to sanitation through new kinds of partners, such as software developers, to learn how new technology-enabled mobile phone applications can address sanitation sector needs.  It is widely reported that more people in the developing world have access to cell phones than to toilets.

Today, the World Bank awarded the three grand prize winners of the Sanitation Hackathon and App Challenge.  In December 2012, the World Bank hosted the first ever global competition to apply state of the art thinking in how to use software applications to help governments, private sector, and households improve sanitation service delivery.


Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/

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