ECOWAS, USAID to strengthen cooperation

07 September 2012, Sweetcrude/African Press Organization (APO), ABUJA, Nigeria – ECOWAS and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have agreed to deepen cooperation in their core areas of engagement – health care delivery, trade, agricultural development, as well as regional peace and security.

Welcoming a delegation from the Agency’s West Africa Regional Office and the US Embassy in Nigeria, on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Vice-President Dr. Toga McIntosh, thanked the US Government and other development partners for their continued support to the organization towards fostering a people-centred regional development and integration.

As a reliable partner, he said USAID has supported ECOWAS in delivering its mandate in the region, which faces myriad of development challenges, adding that the agency’s contributions have been through several Memoranda of Understanding on development programmes, capacity building and advocacy to other donors, among others.

Dr. McIntosh assured ECOWAS’ development partners that under on-going institutional reforms, the Commission’s new management team has placed a high priority on accountability, adding that suggestions would be welcomed to help satisfy the requirements of donors and meet the high expectations of the beneficiary Member States and community.

According to him, other priority areas in the region include development of infrastructure such as roads, railway, power and energy.

In their responses, the USAID Director, Regional Agriculture Office for West Africa, Dr. Candace Buzzard and Mr. James P. McAnulty, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy, Nigeria, underscored the importance and benefits of the long-standing relation between the agency and ECOWAS.

They expressed the need for the strengthening of the cooperation and the desire for ECOWAS to spear head an upcoming conference on regional food security and trade.

The US spends millions of dollars annually on world food aid. Dr. Buzzard explained that in the coming years, USAID assistance in West Africa through the ECOWAS partnership would focus on strengthening the resilience of the beneficiaries.

The US delegation also noted some challenges to trade and free movement of goods and services in the region, which Dr. McIntosh assured, were being addressed by ECOWAS at the highest level.

Also on the US team were Mr. Jorge Oliveira, USAID Food Security and Natural Resources Management Advisor, Ms. Helaina Stein, Political/Military Affairs Officer at the Embassy and Ms. Aba Blankson, USAID Development Outreach and Communication Specialist.

On the ECOWAS Commission’s side were the Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Marc Atouga and officials from the External Relations and Communication Departments.

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