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On October 21, 2015, the African Development Bank Group’s (AfDB) Board of Executive Directors approved a US $33.3-million grant to set up a Post Ebola Recovery Social Investment Fund (PERSIF) intended to support the implementation of the National Post Ebola Recovery strategies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Whilst the Governments of the three countries have been able to contain the outbreak, Ebola still remains a serious risk for the region. Three new confirmed cases of Ebola were reported last week in Guinea, according to the latest situation report from the World Health Organization. The size of the epidemic has affected the concerned countries’ economies, nationally, regionally and beyond, and early recovery activities need to proceed immediately.
“Building on lessons learned from the response, recovery efforts should ensure that people and their communities are at the centre of the recovery process. The regional nature of this epidemic calls for regional solutions to leverage economies of scale, systems strengthening, improved governance, communication, coordination and community involvement,” said Sunita Pitamber, AfDB’s Director for Human Development.
The fund combines contributions from the African Development Fund – the AfDB’s fund for emerging markets as well as countries in transition (USD 25 million grant); the US State Department (USD 5 million grant); and AfDB’s Rural Water and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) Trust Fund (USD 3.4 million).
Funding from the US State Department will support economic and livelihood development for women, girls, and orphans and vulnerable children from Ebola communities in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The original epicenters of the outbreak in the three countries are situated in remote border areas, where safe water and sanitation are very poor. In Liberia for example, over 50% of the 656 health facilities have no on-site water and sanitation. In Sierra Leone, 3,000 schools are without water and sanitation. In Guinea, 29% of rural households do not have access to any kind of toilet facility.
“The RWSSI Trust Fund responds to the need to build resilience in the affected-countries through sustainable improvement of water and sanitation for the most vulnerable segments of population,” said Mohamed El Azizi, Director of the AfDB Water and Sanitation Department.
PERSIF will be hosted by the Mano River Union Secretariat and will finance demand-driven, small-scale activities to contribute to the restoration of livelihoods and building the productive capacity of the poor especially women. It is expected to benefit 5,000 Ebola survivors and 2,000 orphans and vulnerable children.
The Bank’s ongoing projects will continue to focus on strengthening public health systems which include building human resource capacity; epidemic preparedness and response; m-health and strengthening governance and regional institutions.
The fund is a welcome addition to the Bank’s ongoing efforts to fight Ebola. It is expected to play a catalytic role in improving community response to outbreaks, and contribute to inclusive growth, gender equality and poverty reduction in the three affected countries.
Since March 2014, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and development partners have accompanied the three affected countries in the relentless fight against Ebola – which cost the lives of 11,298 West Africans. AfDB mobilized US $523 million for 12 operations in the West Africa region, and launched an Ebola Response Fund alongside development partners and representatives from the private sector. This includes US $223 million from the African Development Fund (ADF), Transitional Support Fund (TSF), and the Special Relief Fund (SRF) aimed at strengthening health systems, training health workers, and providing equipment and other emergency support to Ebola-affected countries, and $300 million for a road transport project for the Mano River countries aimed at strengthening infrastructure and the economy in the region.