The World Bank Group or WBG has announced the provision of at least US$650 million 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 and advance their longer-term development needs.
According to a statement issued from Washington D,C, the new WBG pledge brings the organization’s total financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts to date to US$1.62 billion.
The additional funding announcement comes as the WBG releases new GDP estimates showing that the Ebola epidemic continues to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. 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.
In addition to the severe effects of Ebola, the economic downturn in the three countries is aggravated by the sharp decline in global iron ore prices, as well as the collapse of the mining sector in Sierra Leone, resulting in an unprecedented GDP contraction in that country estimated at 23.5 percent.
The World Bank Statement quoted its President Jim Yong Kim as announcing the new funding from the International Development Association or IDA, the WBG’s fund for the poorest countries, at an Ebola summit during the WBG-IMF Spring Meetings. 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.
The new funding is on top of the nearly US$1 billion that the WBG previously committed for the Ebola emergency response and early recovery efforts from IDA (US$518 million) and IFC (US$450 million), and also comes on top of US$2.17 billion in debt relief from the WBG (Guinea, US$1,098.5 million; Liberia, US$464.7 million; and Sierra Leone, US$ 506.8 million), which during 2015-17 will save the three countries about US$75 million annually in debt payments.
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 programs, and lifesaving infrastructure such as electricity, water, sanitation and roads. The statement said the funds will also be used to develop a regional disease surveillance system across West Africa that will help prevent or contain future pandemics.