In October, the African Development Bank signed a new $152 million aid package to provide direct budget support to Ebola-hit countries.
The funds will be disbursed as a mix of grants and loans — mainly the latter — on top of the bank’s previously announced funding to the Ebola response, bringing total AfDB support for fighting the epidemic to more than $210 million, a bank spokesman told Devex. Apart from Liberia ($61 million), Sierra Leone ($50 million) and Guinea ($32 million), the Ivory Coast would receive $9 million to ensure the country remains virus-free.
The money would “help countries compensate for the lack of fiscal revenues resulting from the crisis” and be used in part to help mitigate Ebola’s socio-economic impact. Apart from focusing on improving health systems and boosting human resource capacity, the Tunis-based development institution is keen on focusing on social protection programs and addressing food security and malnutrition issues.
“The Ebola epidemic is an eye-opener and invites us to learn lessons for the future, because other epidemics may hit us again. There is a need to diagnose the reasons why the epidemic expanded to that extent, and identify remedies,” AfDB President Donald Kaberuka said in a speech after signing the deal Oct. 1.
The aid package comes a few weeks after the World Bank published its own economic assessment of the crisis, arguing that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could suffer midterm economic losses of up to $809 million by 2015 if the outbreak is not contained soon.
Ishmael Alfred Charles, program manager of the Healey International Relief Foundation in Sierra Leone, told Devex this is already happening on the ground. For instance, hotels in Freetown are laying off staff because they only have a handful of guests.
“Many families are already starving,” Charles told Devex.
This situation has a domino effect on the national economy. Without a job, tax revenues will drop even further for the government, while people are becoming increasingly “disgruntled and hungry,” the Rev. Peter Konteh, executive director of Caritas Freetown, said.
“And we fear this may even lead to unrest. Because when people are faced with no money, there's a high chance of armed robbery, looting and then general unrest in the country,” Konteh told Devex.
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