Kufuor returns home from high level meetings in Washington, DC

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor returned home Saturday night from Washington, DC, USA where he was unveiled as the global champion of two organizations dedicated to ensuring healthy and decent lifestyles of the poor in developing countries. A statement signed by Frank Agyekum, spokesperson for former Preside t Kufuor, said at a luncheon co-hosted by the African Union, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and attended by the diplomatic corps, Former President Kufuor was introduced as the Special Envoy for the Network of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). As Special Envoy, Former President Kufuor will canvas support from donor governments and organizations to increase funding for the seven most neglected tropical diseases which include elephantiasis, bilharzia, trachoma, ringworm, roundworms and hookworm. In his capacity as the Chairman of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership, Former President Kufuor chaired the second High Level Meeting of the partnership attended by ministerial delegations from about 40 developing countries joined by major donors at the World Bank. The meeting moderated by Jan Eliasson, Chair of WaterAid Sweden and incoming United Nations Deputy Secretary General Designate, resulted in commitments to take immediate steps to speed up global access to water and sanitation. Following engagements with Finance ministries, almost 40 developing countries made pledges that will provide an additional 60 million people with improved drinking water sources and another 80 million people with access to improved sanitation over the next two years. At the same time, donors announced plans to massively increase the number of people they are reaching. The UK Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, announced that the UK was doubling the number of people it intended to reach with water, sanitation and hygiene education by 2015, from 30 million people to at least 60 million people globally. Meanwhile, the Dutch Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, Ben Knapen, announced a new cooperation between The Netherlands and the UK with UNICEF which which would bring water and sanitation to an additional 10 million people in nine countries, mostly fragile, post-conflict states in West and Central Africa. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah (United States of America) and Peter Baxter, Director-General of AusAID (Australia) also announced joining the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership. Former President Kufuor expressed satisfaction at the turn out of the meeting but cautioned that: "We will be judged by our actions and not our words.We must now hold ourselves accountable."