Ebola Crisis in West Africa

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has destroyed lives, decimated communities, and orphaned children in the affected countries. However, death and suffering are only part of the crisis.


  • Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have seen their growth rates plummet
  • Guinea lost 42,000 jobs in the potato industry. In Sierra Leone, 50 percent of jobs in the private sector have been lost.
  • West Africa as a whole may lose an average of at least US$3.6 billion per year between 2014 and 2017, due to a decrease in trade, closing of borders, flight cancellations and reduced Foreign Direct Investment and tourism activity, fueled by stigma.
  • 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 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.

The epidemic has slowed down economic growth and closed down businesses, affecting the means of making a living of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the region. It also put pressure on government budgets, limiting their capacity to provide basic services for their populations. In addition, the crisis eroded trust among communities, stigmatizing victims and survivors, and destroying confidence in health and government services. A vast coalition of partners is mobilized to help affected countries reach and stay at zero cases. At the same time, the challenge is to help them and their communities to recover from the long-term impact of the crisis.

What is UNDP doing?

UNDP’s response to the crisis is focusing on three priorities:    

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 is helping 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 among large segments of the population 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 in a series of impact studies on budgets,development spending, livelihoods and the provision of essential services, The studies were used to inform national recovery plans in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. To support recovery in all three countries, UNDP will focus on rebuilding economies, supporting the health sector, promote peace and stability and prevent future crises. make welfare payments to vulnerable communities affected by the disease, Our work already involves a diverse range of interventions to: support small businesses, decentralize decision-making and early warning systems, prevent conflict and gender-based violence, and eliminate health risks associated with consuming bush meat.


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Key documents
Getting Beyond Zero

Early Recovery and Resilience Support Framework: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone


Recovering from the Ebola Crisis

Joint mission Ebola Recovery Assessment: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

Issue Brief: Payments Programme for Ebola Response Workers

Chronicles the UN’s engagement in ensuring the Ebola response workforce were paid during this largest ever EVD outbreak.

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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

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