UN: World Bank pledges US$650 million for Ebola recovery programmes

New York, US (PANA) - The World Bank on Friday announced that it would provide 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.

PANA reports that the new World Bank pledge brings the organization’s total financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts to date to US$1.62 billion.

The Bank's President Jim Yong Kim announced the new funding from the International
Development Association (IDA), which is the Bank's fund for the poorest countries, at an Ebola
summit held on the sidelines of the ongoing World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

A UN statement obtained by PANA in New York said that the additional funding announcement
came as the World Bank released new GDP estimates showing that the Ebola epidemic continues to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It estimated GDP losses for the three countries in 2015 rose to US$2.2 billion, comprising US$240 million for Liberia, US$535 million for Guinea and US$1.4 billion for Sierra Leone.

The Bank also said that, 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 per cent.

The statement disclosed that President Alpha Conde of Guinea, Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone presented their Ebola recovery plans to global development leaders at the meeting.

It said 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
International Finance Corporation (IFC) (US$450 million).

The funding also comes on top of US$2.17 billion in debt relief from the World Bank for 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

The Bank also said that, 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.

Others are lifesaving infrastructure such as electricity, water, sanitation and roads, and also
the funds will be used to develop a regional disease surveillance system across West Africa
that will help prevent or contain future pandemics.  

The World Bank president, stated: "Even as we work relentlessly to get to zero new Ebola cases, the international community must help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone jump-start their recovery and build a safer, more prosperous and resilient future for their people."

He noted that, "many of us have acknowledged that the international community was slow
to react to Ebola. Let us 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."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the same summit that full recovery of Ebola-affected countries is 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,"
Ban said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank said since it issued its last economic update on 20 January,
important differences among the three countries are emerging.

It said the new report found 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.

It also said that Liberia is gradually returning to normalcy, with a projected GDP growth rate
of 3 per cent in 2015, higher than in 2014 though still well below pre-Ebola estimates of 6.8
per cent, and 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.

As a result, the Bank said additional international financing is urgently needed to help the
three countries recover fully and reclaim the positive development and growth paths that
prevailed before the Ebola epidemic struck West Africa.

It noted that the pace of recovery in these countries will also depend on how effectively
their recovery plans can be carried out.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the week leading up to 12 April,
there were a total of 37 confirmed cases of Ebola, compared with 30 the previous week.

WHO said case incidence in Guinea increased to 28, compared with 21 confirmed cases
the previous week, Sierra Leone reported 9 confirmed cases, the same total as in the
previous week and Liberia reported no confirmed case.

Over the past year, more than 10,000 people have died from the disease in the three
worst affected countries.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  17April2015

17 april 2015 16:17:15

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