Brussels, 8 November 2012
New EU support to save lives of mothers in Liberia
Today, EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, announces a new €42 million programme during a meeting with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia and the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner. The new EU funding will contribute to halving maternal mortality rate to 375 per 100,000 live births from the current level of 770 per 100,000 (one of the highest in the world). These funds will be used for rehabilitating health centres, providing medical equipment, training health staff and many other activities aimed at improving health services in the country. This EU funding is part of the EU's €1 billion MDG initiative to foster global progress on the Millennium Development Goals before 2015.
During the meeting the President and the Commissioner will also discuss the EU's development work and political dialogue with Liberia as well as regional cooperation in West Africa more widely and progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
Commissioner Piebalgs said: "I am delighted to meet President Sirleaf, who has made great efforts to stabilise Liberia and promote women's rights and whose actions have inspired hope in the country and beyond. I will encourage the President to pursue her efforts towards national reconciliation and the fight against corruption. I stand firmly with her and her government on its agenda for state building and reconstruction. I will also confirme to President Sirleaf that we will support her reform efforts in the forestry sector and in the fight against illegal timber exports from Liberia."
He added: "I am also glad to announce that the European Commission will shortly adopt a new programme that will help the government to save the lives of thousands of mothers who would otherwise die around the time of childbirth."
About four women die every day from child birth or pregnancy related conditions. Only 37% of deliveries take place in health facilities and only 46% of births are attended by people who have received training.
EU cooperation with Liberia
Under the 10th European Development Fund, Liberia receives €182 million over the period 2008-2013. The main focus of this support is on the rehabilitation of basic infrastructure and social services (education, health), institutional support to improve governance and stability, and a budget support programme to help stabilise the economy.
The fight against illegal timber exports from Liberia
In 2011, the EU and Liberia signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance Trade) initiative. The aim of the VPA is to eliminate illegal timber exports from Liberia to the EU and strengthen Liberia's efforts to improve governance in the forestry sector.
The EU supports the implementation of the VPA in Liberia with a €17 million programme. Among other things, the programme provides support to key government institutions such as the Forestry Development Authority to regulate and manage forest resources in a way that ensures legal timber production. It also strengthens civil society organisations in their “watchdog” role in monitoring VPA implementation. The programme is co-funded by the European Commission (€10 million) and the UK (€7 million) and implemented by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID).
Millennium Development Goals
President Johnson Sirleaf is a co-chair of the High Level Panel on the post 2015 development agenda set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, together with David Cameron, UK Prime Minister and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia. Commissioner Piebalgs is a member of the panel. The Panel is part of the United Nation's initiative to advance the development agenda beyond 2015 and its work will be closely coordinated with international working group on Sustainable Development Goals, agreed at the Rio+20 conference.
For further information
IP/11/548: Fight against illegal logging: the European Union and Liberia team up to ensure legal origin of imported wood products to the EU
IP/12/875: Commissioner Piebalgs appointed as a member of the High level Panel on post-2015 development agenda
Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:
Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:
Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)
Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)