Ebola Crisis in West Africa
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is rapidly destroying lives, decimating communities, and orphaning children in the affected countries. However, death and suffering are only part of the crisis. If the outbreak is not contained soon, most of the economic and social gains achieved since peace was restored in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea’s democratic transition began could be reversed. In October, the disease also appeared in Mali, where authorities, assisted by the United Nations and other partners, are now working to prevent its spread.
- According to UNFPA, an estimated 800,000 women will give birth in 2015 in the three countries, but some 120,000 of them may die from lack of access to emergency obstetrics care, while health services have been diverted toward Ebola response.
- In Liberia, 60 percent of markets are now closed and half of the mining and palm oil concessions have reduced their activity.
- In Sierra Leone, only one-fifth of the 10,000 HIV patients on anti-retroviral treatments are still receiving them due to the current lack of health personnel available for non-Ebola care.
- Guinea’s government is reporting a $220 million financing gap because of the crisis.
The epidemic is slowing down economic growth and closing down businesses, affecting the means of making a living of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the region. It is also putting pressure on government budgets, limiting their capacity to provide basic services for their populations. In addition, the crisis is eroding trust among communities, stigmatizing victims and survivors, and destroying confidence in health and government services. A vast coalition of partners is now mobilized to help affected countries end the disease. At the same time, the challenge is to help those countries and communities recover from the long-term impact of the crisis.
What is UNDP doing?
UNDP’s response to the crisis is focusing on three priorities:
• Stronger coordination and service delivery;
• Community mobilization and outreach;
• Socio-economic impact and recovery.
Coordination and service delivery
As part of the overall UNMEER and UN response, we are the lead UN agency on the coordination of payments to Ebola workers. UNDP will help to track payments and improve the systems through which they are being delivered to treatment center staff, lab technicians, contacts tracers and burial teams.
Community mobilization and outreach
We are working with communities, through local leaders and networks of volunteers, to identify cases, trace contacts and educate people on how the disease is spread and how to avoid contracting it. We are also raising awareness, including among People Living With Disabilities, of how important it is to fight stigma, reintegrate survivors and support their families.
Socio-economic impact and recovery
UNDP economists have been assessing the development impact of Ebola. Findings from the impact studies have resulted in a series of policy notes on the disease’s impact on fiscal space and development spending, which will be used to inform recovery plans. As part of our early recovery efforts, UNDP will also make welfare payments to vulnerable communities affected by the disease, focusing on survivors and families who lost relatives or are helping orphaned children, as well as those who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the crisis.
In Guinea, UNDP is working with youth, religious and women leaders on door-to-door information campaigns, in addition to helping them do contact tracing and identify new infections and orphaned children. Along the border with Mali, we are also equipping border checkpoints and public places with thermometers and sanitation gear, while reaching out to people on how to protect themselves.
In Sierra Leone, UNDP helped the Office of National Security to roll out new Standard Operational Procedures for 2,000 security forces working at checkpoints and quarantined neighborhoods across the country, training them on how to respect human rights and communicate with courtesy. UNDP provided technical assistance to the government to pay more than 12,000 Ebola response workers, in addition to reaching out to hundreds of thousands through neighborhood campaigns.
In Liberia, we provided vehicles, medical gear, telecommunication equipment and chlorine reserves for use by local counties and police. UNDP is also working with the Ministry of Health to ensure health workers are paid on time and to recruit thousands of community workers to identify Ebola cases.
In Mali, UNDP is helping the Ministry of Health’s national Ebola coordination unit to better report and manage cases. We are procuring computer and medical equipment, improving data networks, and helping to train case finders and contact tracers.
The number of new cases of Ebola in Liberia is decreasing each day and community volunteers’ work has contributed substantially to this result. UNDP Liberia has recruited 1,300 volunteers who are being paid $80 per month to go door to door, every day in their communities, to track down anyone who shmore
The United Nations Development Programme, working closely with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), has stepped up its effort to help Mali stem the progression of the Ebola virus disease. UNDP has allocated one million dollars toward helping the government treat patients, monitor thmore
With support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), religious leaders in N'Zérékoré, in the heart of Guinea’s forest region where the West African Ebola outbreak first appeared, have taken the lead in informing their citizens on how to prevent the disease. Together with political leadmore
Liberia could experience negative GDP growth for the first time since the war ended 11 years ago unless urgent action is taken to stimulate the economy. Liberia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world last year, but recent projections show that the country’s growth could be going backwmore
A double-amputee from Makeni, two hours from Freetown, is the first reported member of the disabled community to die from the Ebola virus disease. Bound to a wheelchair and reliant on her family to live her life, she fell ill and died following the death of her mother and her child from Ebola. Her dmore
Support the relief efforts
With $50, UNDP provides a month's worth of supplies to an Ebola-affected family of 5.
Photo essayA disease spread through love and sympathy
UNDP staff visits communities to hear the stories of those who have fought the disease and those who are still affected to find out the best way to help them.
Ebola press releases
- 24 Nov 2014:Ebola crisis may result in more hunger: UNDP study
- 05 Nov 2014:Ebola crisis draining development budgets in West Africa, study finds
- 14 Oct 2014:Community Mobilization, Local Investment Needed to Win Fight Against Ebola, says UN
- 13 Oct 2014:UNDP calls for greater community involvement to combat Ebola in West Africa
Key documentsView More
In Pictures: UNDP on the Frontlines of the Ebola Crisis
18 Nov 2014:Ebola - a disease of poverty
10 Nov 2014:Ebola response cannot be gender blind