The World Bank Group (WBG) on Friday said it will provide 650 million US dollars during the next 12 to 18 months to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone recover from the devastating social and economic impact of the Ebola crisis.
The new WBG pledge, which brings the organization’s total financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts to date to 1.62 billion dollars is also to help the three countries to advance their longer-term development needs.
The additional funding announcement is to respond to the fact that the WBG new GDP estimates has shown that the Ebola epidemic continues to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In a release issued by the WBG office based in Washington and copied to the Ghana News Agency, explained that, the estimated GDP losses for the three countries for 2015 rose to 2.2 US dollars billion: 240 million for Liberia, 535 million US dollars for Guinea and 1.4 billion US dollars for Sierra Leone.
Mr Jim Yong Kim, WBG President, made the announcement of the new funding at an Ebola summit during the WBG-IMF Spring Meetings in Washington.
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.
“Even as we work relentlessly to get to zero new Ebola cases, the international community must help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone jumpstart their recovery and build a safer, more prosperous and resilient future for their people. Many of us have acknowledged that the international community was slow to react to Ebola, he added.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said the full recovery of Ebola-affected countries was only possible when the outbreak has ended and safeguards have been put in place to prevent re-introduction of the disease.
“Our energy must now focus on effective action to eliminate Ebola, the revival and strengthening of health systems, and ensuring the resilience of communities in the face of future threats: these are a precondition for sustainable and durable recovery.”
President Alpha Condé of Guinea, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone presented their Ebola recovery plans to global development leaders at the meeting.
In line with the countries’ recovery plans, the five priority areas for the additional IDA funds include: strengthening health systems and frontline care; agriculture; education; cash transfers and other social protection programmes; and 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 report finds that Sierra Leone is now facing a severe recession with the potential for an unprecedented -23.5 per cent growth rate in 2015, resulting from financial issues that led to the closure of iron ore mining.
Liberia is gradually returning to normalcy, with a projected GDP growth rate of 3per cent in 2015, higher than in 2014, though still well below pre-Ebola estimates of 6.8 per cent. Guinea’s economy continues to stagnate, with a projected growth of -0.2 per cent for 2015 compared to pre-Ebola rate of 4.3 per cent. GNA