World Bank: Ebola regional impact could soon reach $33 billion
The economic impact of Ebola on West Africa could range from $3.8 billion to $32.6 billion by the end of next year, depending on how quickly it can be contained and how far it spreads in the region, the World Bank reported today in a press release.
In a World Bank report, experts assessed two possible scenarios: an optimistic "low Ebola," event in which the disease is contained by early 2015, cases stay around 20,000, and economic activity gradually increases; and "high Ebola," in which cases reach 200,000 and the outbreak worsens significantly into mid-2015. Both scenarios assume at least some spread beyond the three main affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
In the "low Ebola" scenario, lost gross domestic product (GDP) for West Africa is estimated at $2.2 billion in 2014 and $1.6 billion in 2015. In the "high Ebola" possibility, estimates suggest $7.4 billion in lost GDP for 2014 and $25.2 billion in 2015, the report says.
According to the World Bank's analysis, the economic impact of Ebola is already very serious in the three affected countries—particularly Liberia and Sierra Leone—and could become catastrophic under a slow-containment, "high Ebola" scenario.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, MD, PhD, said in the release, "With Ebola's potential to inflict massive economic costs on Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and the rest of their neighbors in West Africa, the international community must find ways to get past logistical roadblocks and bring in more doctors and trained medical staff, more hospital beds, and more health and development support to help stop Ebola in its tracks."
Oct 8 World Bank press release
Oct 7 World Bank full report
FAO launches initiative to address Ebola-caused food issues
In response to indirect impacts of Ebola, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today launched a program to urgently assist 90,000 vulnerable households in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone whose food supplies and livelihoods are threatened by the Ebola epidemic.
The FAO's "Regional Response Programme for West Africa" will ramp up the work the agency is already doing with governments, UN partners, and local networks of agriculture, veterinary, and forestry workers to slow disease spread, meet immediate and long-term food and nutrition security needs, and build resilience, according to an FAO news story.
Program activities are organized around four key objectives, the agency said:
- Save lives by stopping the spread of the disease through social mobilization, training, and awareness-raising activities
- Boost incomes and agricultural production to safeguard livelihoods through rapid impact assessments and support to crop and livestock production and trade
- Build resilience of communities to disease threats by improving early-warning systems and emergency response
- Strengthen coordination to improve response by addressing food security issues