West African Ebola epidemic

An epidemic of Ebola that began in Guinea in March 2014 has now spread to neighbouring West African countries. The outbreak is the most severe epidemic of the disease to have occurred to date, and has been declared an international emergency by the World Health Organization. The virus has claimed over 3,300 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with a few cases occurring in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Senegal.

UNDP's response

  • We have deployed an extra 130 staff to the three countries to boost UNDP's response.
  • In Guinea, we are re-orienting our country programme to help tackle the socioeconomic crisis.
  • In Liberia, we are training police and security services to secure borders and prevent further spread of the disease in prisons and public areas.
  • In Sierra Leone, we are involved in community engagement, including running public information campaigns and procuring basic goods to survivors (ie: personal hygiene, clothes, blankets, mattresses, food).

Beyond the death and suffering caused by the disease, the crisis could have lasting development consequences in the region, where many countries are still recovering from years of conflict and instability. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are projected to lose $1.17 billion in lost GDP due to Ebola. The agricultural sector accounts for 57% of Sierra Leone's GDP and 37% of Liberia's. Disruptions during the growing season have resulted in the inflation of the price of key food crops. In Liberia, the price of a highly nutritious and standard food staple, cassava, has increased by 150%. While individual livelihoods have shrunk due to lost wages, unemployment, and lost productivity, rising hunger fueled by soaring costs of basic necessities are exacerbating the ongoing crisis. Economic growth has been affected as emerging sectors such as tourism, agriculture and private sector investment are reduced, and development programmes may have to be postponed or interrupted in affected areas.

At the same time, measures such as border containment, quarantine, airport screening, and appropriate protection for medical personnel could cost the governments of the region hundreds of millions of dollars from already stretched budgets.

UNDP and UN country teams are working closely with the World health Organization, which is coordinating the medical response to the disease, while UNICEF and UNFPA are leading on community outreach, mobilization and education.

 

What is UNDP doing?

We are deploying some extra 130 staff to the three countries to boost the organization’s response. We are spearheading action on the ground to contain the disease:

In Guinea, we are re-orienting our country programme to help tackle the socioeconomic crisis, focusing on three priorities: community engagement to stop the disease and keep the security, cash transfers to ensure the continuation of essential services, and assessing the socioeconomic impact of the crisis;

In Liberia, we are training police and security services to secure borders and prevent further spread of the disease in prisons and public areas. We have provided telecommunications equipment to ensure contact between border posts and central command in Monrovia;

In Sierra Leone, we are involved in community engagement, including running public information campaigns on how to prevent infection and where to seek treatment, and procuring basic goods to survivors (kits containing items for personal hygiene, clothes, blankets, mattresses, food).

UNDP is working on plans to make cash transfers available to thousands of affected families. At the same time, our economists are assessing the development impact of the crisis to help drive recovery efforts and make sure communities can rebuild their lives.

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In Pictures: UNDP on the Frontlines of the Ebola Crisis
  • Community Health Volunteers with Ebola prevention kits walking through West Point in Monrovia, Liberia
  • UNDP on the frontlines of the Ebola crisis in West Africa
  • UNDP on the frontlines of the Ebola crisis in West Africa
  • UNDP on the frontlines of the Ebola crisis in West Africa
  • Community Health Volunteers with Ebola prevention kits walking through West Point in Monrovia, Liberia
  • UNDP on the frontlines of the Ebola crisis in West Africa
  • UNDP on the frontlines of the Ebola crisis in West Africa
  • UNDP on the frontlines of the Ebola crisis in West Africa
  • UNDP on the frontlines of the Ebola crisis in West Africa

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Related Document
Policy Note - Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) imposes substantial loss in household incomes in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

This Policy Note calls for urgent actions to stop the outbreak and address the serious hardship it is imposing on communities and people, including loss of income, livelihoods and jobs. Livelihood regeneration, income support and safety net programmes must be institutionalized in seriously affected communities.