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Editorial: Enhancing Regional Cooperation

Liberia and Sierra Leone have recommitted their respective governments to investing more in water, sanitation and hygiene as part of efforts to responding to targets set in the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs. The two countries re-iterated their resolve at the close of a two-day Joint Ministerial High Level Meeting on water, sanitation and hygiene held in Monrovia last week Thursday, March 22nd, which is a prelude to the upcoming meeting expected to be held in Washington, D.C., United States of America on April 19-20, 2012.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who chaired the meeting said, “It’s clear from the statistics that too many children, too many people die from the lack of clean water and sanitation. There is nothing more basic than that if we’re talking about improved welfare of a nation. Let me say to all of you that all you have done in these few days to enable us to be more conscious has made a great contribution. We are committed to investing in water and sanitation as a means of accelerating the health condition and the welfare of our people.”

Indeed, the lack of safe drinking water, coupled with poor sanitation and hygiene are one of the contributing factors to outbreaks of disease, sickness and death in many African countries. Governments on the continent should work concertedly in ensuring these basic qualities of life are met for their respective peoples.

Both Liberia and Sierra Leone share not only common borders, but ethnic and cultural ties, which makes it even more compelling that they collaborate in making sure their citizens live healthy lives, particularly the most vulnerable groups of society: women, children and the elderly. Besides, the two countries are post-conflict societies where war, poverty and various kinds of diseases had taken toil on their respective citizens.

“It’s clear from the statistics that too many children, too many people die from the lack of clean water and sanitation”, President Sirleaf noted and emphasized that  there is nothing more basic than talking about improved welfare of a nation through meeting these basic necessities of life. The United Nations has set 2015 as deadline for less developed countries to meet standards contained in the Millennium Development Goals, including basic universal education, health and communication, among others.

President Sirleaf is fully cognizant that the benchmarks are just few years away, and Liberia and Sierra Leone, like many other countries in Africa, are far behind in achieving pillars of the MDGs, but the Liberian leader seems optimistic that with honest willpower and collective strive some level of progress can be attained.

She told the meeting: “The MDGs are just a few years away for the target date. Perhaps we may not be able to meet those targets given how far behind we are. But I think it’s this meeting that provides us with the opportunity to begin to determine, each of our countries, what goals we can set to accelerate our effort towards achieving in large measures those goals if not totally that the improvement in the next few years can be so demonstrable and that this meeting can look back and say as a result of the focus that came from this meeting we have been able to show this progress.”

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We believe the current endeavour is a positive move in galvanizing strategies, human and financial resources in addressing those common problems that confront our respective citizens as member states of the Mano River Union in a spirit of regional collaboration and solidarity.

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