Ebola crisis could disrupt Guinea’s economy for a decade, UN development officials say

Oct 10, 2014


UNDP focuses on community engagement and early recovery from the socioeconomic impact in the country
 
Conakry, Guinea -- Urgent support is needed to avert an economic meltdown in Guinea, where the Ebola crisis is destroying lives, jobs and essential services, said UN development officials here today. They pointed out that the crisis has already affected every sector of the economy and could be felt ten years after the crisis has ended.

“The health crisis in Guinea, one of the three most seriously affected countries, now permeates every aspect of people’s lives. Ebola is crippling health services, but it is also shutting down businesses, disrupting the production, sale and export of essential foodstuffs, and affecting schooling at all levels,” said Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of Policy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “We can avoid a paralysis if we act now to make sure years of development efforts are not wiped out,” he added, concluding his official visit to the capital, Conakry.
 
After prolonged political instability, economic growth in Guinea had picked up. The country was beginning to forge ahead in its efforts to fight poverty and create a better future for Guinean women and men.

Now, container traffic in the port of Conakry is down by a third, while the airport is two-thirds empty. In the Northeast, exports of fruit and vegetables to neighboring countries have been down 90 percent.

The agricultural and mining sectors have been hit hard. Fewer farmers are tending the fields, threatening to reduce food yields in the harvesting period, while mining companies have asked workers to stay home.
 
UNDP is re-orienting its country programme in Guinea 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.
 
UNDP immediately mobilized its neighborhood police programme in Conakry to help build trust, secure poor areas, report suspected cases and reach out to communities on how to avoid contracting Ebola. The agency is training and deploying 500 police – including many women – to some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods. The initiative will also fight Ebola in the Southeast, where the epidemic first appeared.

In addition, UNDP is financing an early warning center, where reported security incidents from across the country, including 42 border posts, show up in real-time geolocation mapping on a screen in the Ministry of Security. The effort will help secure areas where the threat of Ebola has led to violence.

In Conakry, UNDP, supported by UN Volunteers (UNVs), identified and mobilized their network of 2,500 young volunteers who are helping to prevent the spread of the disease by distributing soap and chlorine and teaching community members how to thoroughly wash hands and avoid contact with possible cases.
 
To ensure an effective fight against the epidemic, UNDP is preparing with partners a plan that would propose introducing cash transfers for health workers to quickly identify and trace contacts of patients. The transfers would also target survivors and their families, who may face stigma and economic hardship.
 
Further, UNDP has mobilized a team of economists to support the government in assessing the socioeconomic impact of the Ebola crisis in Guinea. Their findings will be used to map out early recovery efforts and investment needs.
 
Recognized as the most transparent aid organization by the 2014 Aid Transparency Index, UNDP will collaborate closely with the new UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and will work at the global level to mobilize funds and additional support to combat the epidemic and its consequences.
 
During his visit, Anthony Banbury, Head of UNMEER and Martínez-Solimán met with President Alpha Condé and, as well as first responders, in particular MSF, the Red Cross, civil society and private sector organizations. Today, he and Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, the Deputy Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, will travel to Freetown to boost UNDP and the UN’s response there.
 
The Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, will arrive in Accra today, where he will meet with Banbury and the United Nations Country Team in Ghana. Dieye has been speaking to governments in the region on widening the humanitarian corridor to accelerate the response.
Contact information

Nicolas Douillet, Communications Specialist, UNDP Africa
Tel: +1.917.701.1520 - Email: nicolas.douillet@undp.org

Sandra Macharia, Regional Communications Advisor, UNDP New York
Tel: +1.212.906.5377 - Email: sandra.macharia@undp.org

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