Socio-economic impact of the Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

The Ebola health crisis has become a complex development challenge for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In eight months, the outbreak has caused more cases and deaths than all previous epidemics combined. In the affected countries, weak capacities, human resources and health systems; uncontrolled migration flows; poor social cohesion; and the persistence of traditional beliefs and practices have contributed to the crisis. Ebola is hurting economies and livelihoods, slashing gross domestic output, threatening food security, reducing opportunities for jobs and livelihoods, and slowing down foreign investment. All of these consequences are robbing people of a well-deserved peace and promising development gains. Through its impact on prices, the epidemic is reducing people’s purchasing power and increasing their vulnerability, even more so in rural areas. The most active and productive segments of the labour force, including women, are being decimated by the virus. Income-generating opportunities are being reduced, especially for those in vulnerable employment. All in all, household incomes in affected countries have suffered, plummeting by around 12 percent in Guinea and 35 percent in Liberia and posing a potential threat to peace and stability. The crisis is also stressing the fiscal capacity of governments in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Overall shortfalls in tax and non-tax revenues resulting from the outbreak are continuing to increase. Fighting the disease is blowing up recurrent expenditures, often at the expense of infrastructure spending, and in the midst of low absorptive capacities. Meanwhile, government financing gaps are widening and increasing public debts. With the strong commitment of governments, the international community and the private sector, ending the outbreak and resuming growth and development are possible. That effort will require building community resilience, reviving formal and informal loan and microfinance programmes, supporting food production in the next planting season, promoting value chains in export-oriented primary commodities, as well as resuming initiatives to strengthen skills. In addition, containing the disease must go hand in hand with rebuilding and strengthening the health systems in these countries. UNDP is working on providing concrete evidence that will help to accelerate recovery efforts. Working with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) which is leading the UN’s overall response, UNDP is leading early recovery efforts, and supporting nationally-led efforts to address the crisis. UNDP’s response to the crisis is focusing on three priorities: Stronger coordination and service delivery; community mobilization and outreach; socioeconomic impact and recovery. The international community can help the affected countries limit the socio-economic impact of this crisis. By stepping up recovery efforts even as the immediate response is on-going, these countries will be in a better position to reset their economies and embark on sustainable development paths.

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Dec 03 2014
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 Record created 2018-02-01, last modified 2018-02-02

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