Ebola Pledges Reach US$5 Billion

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The three countries worst affected by the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), Guinea, Liberia and Sierra have received a staggering US$5 billion as support from the international community.
The money is inclusive of the US$3.4 billion pledged by the international community at the Ebola Conference over the weekend in New York.
The fund is intended to help eradicate the virus from the West African Sub-region and subsequently assist the affected countries to recover from the effects of the epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people and devastated their economies.
The European Union had earlier pledged US$495 million, the African Development Bank, US$745 million, and US$266 million from the Islamic Development Bank, as well as the US$266 million from the U.S. and $340 million from Great Britain.
Not included in the US$5 billion are the numerous donations made by the business communities, philanthropists and private individuals in the three countries which could also amount to a substantial fund.
The Ebola New York meeting convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon raised US$3.4 billion in pledges to help in the recovery efforts of the three countries affected by Ebola.
Finance ministers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone had requested US$3.2 billion to support a strategy aimed at getting rid of the virus from the region in the next two years and help strengthen the health sector of each country.
This precipitated the convening of the New York conference, where the US$3.4 billion was raised in pledges. The amount, however, was far beyond what many had predicted.
The main challenge now is how the funds will be collected and disbursed to the affected communities. The problems of corruption and misappropriation in the benefiting countries are also of critical concern, International aid agency Oxfam, indicated at the end of the conference.
In many cases, money donated for humanitarian responses is often unaccounted for, leaving affected communities without the necessary help.
Oxfam said, “It is now the donors’ and recipient governments’ responsibility to ensure that the promised funds are delivered in the most transparent and useful way.”
Donors are worried, indicating that the issue of corruption is a huge impediment to the objective of the funds. Transparency and accountability on the part of the receiving countries are paramount to the effectiveness and lasting impact of the funds intended for targeted communities and projects.
Liberia and Sierra Leone have been mired in corruption charges involving funds donated for the combat of the EVD, though information is yet to come from the Guinean end of the trio.
Reports emanating from Sierra Leone a few months ago, had it that about US$5.5m of Ebola funds was unaccounted for. Liberia’s General Auditing Commission indicted several officials of the Incidence Management System (IMS), a group heading the EVD fight. They include the IMS boss, Tolbert Nyenswah, and his deputy for logistics, Dorbor Jallah, who is also the head of the country’s Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC)-another anti-graft body. The GAC noted in its report that US$673K is unaccounted for.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf swiftly came to the defense of these indictees indicating that they may not have stolen the funds, but the missing funds might be a result of procedural issues. With these discrepancies, many are now worried as to what will become of funds coming in from the new commitment of the international community.
Many of the early donations from the international community during the height of the outbreak did not come directly to the government of the three countries, but were rather provided to agencies such as MSF, WHO and others that were on the ground. Many said that it could have been worse if those funds had been provided directly to the government and that the level of progress that is being experienced now could not have been achieved.

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