The President of the World Bank Group (WBG), Jim Yong Kim, has emphasized the need for more support to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone get to zero new Ebola cases.
He said reaching zero new Ebola cases will help the three countries jumpstart their economy recovery and build a safer, more prosperous and resilient future for their citizens.
“Many of us have acknowledged that the international community was slow to react to Ebola. Let's show that we have learned this lesson by supporting an effective and sustainable recovery that also prepares these countries — and the rest of the world — for the next pandemic.” Kim said.
He noted that, in addition to the severe effects of Ebola, the economic downturn in the three countries has been aggravated by the sharp decline in global iron ore prices, as well as the collapse of the mining sector in Sierra Leone, which has resulted in an unprecedented GDP contraction in that country estimated at 23.5 per cent.
Since the WBG issued its last economic update on January 20, 2015, it says important differences among the three countries are emerging.
The WBG new report has found that Sierra Leone is now facing a severe recession with the potential for an unprecedented 23.5% growth rate in 2015, resulting from financial issues that led to the closure of iron ore mining.
The report also noted that a gradual return of Liberia to normalcy, with a projected GDP growth rate of 3%.
The report further shows that the Ebola epidemic continues to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
An estimated GDP losses for the three countries in 2015 rose to US$2.2 billion: US$240 million for Liberia, US$535 million for Guinea and US$1.4 billion for Sierra Leone.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the week leading up to April 12, there were a total of 37 confirmed cases of Ebola, compared with 30 the previous week in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
There has been no case reported in Liberia for the past three weeks.
At the same time, World Bank has announced US$650 million as additional support to the three West Africa Ebola affected countries for the next 12 to 18 months to help them recover from the impact of the Ebola crisis.
The new funding will be used to strengthen priority areas in health systems and frontline care, agriculture, education, cash transfers and other social protection programs, which include lifesaving infrastructure such as electricity, water, sanitation and roads.
The funds will also be used to develop a regional disease surveillance system across West Africa that will help prevent or contain future pandemics.
The new WBG pledge brings the organization’s total financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts to US$1.62 billion.
Other commitments announced include $300 million from the African Development Bank, $80 million from GAVI, and $387 million from the Global Fund through 2017 for the worst Ebola affected countries in the sub region.
This is in addition to previously committed funding to the Ebola response and recovery efforts from the United States, United Kingdom, and many other development partners, which represents a substantial investment in support of the national plans.