The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is rapidly destroying lives, decimating communities, and orphaning children in the affected countries. However, death and suffering are only part of the crisis. If the outbreak is not contained soon, most of the economic and social gains achieved since peace was restored in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea’s democratic transition began could be reversed. In October, the disease also appeared in Mali, where authorities, assisted by the United Nations and other partners, are now working to prevent its spread.
The epidemic is slowing down economic growth and closing down businesses, affecting the means of making a living of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the region. It is also putting pressure on government budgets, limiting their capacity to provide basic services for their populations. In addition, the crisis is eroding trust among communities, stigmatizing victims and survivors, and destroying confidence in health and government services. A vast coalition of partners is now mobilized to help affected countries end the disease. At the same time, the challenge is to help those countries and communities recover from the long-term impact of the crisis.
What is UNDP doing?
UNDP’s response to the crisis is focusing on three priorities:
• Stronger coordination and service delivery;
• Community mobilization and outreach;
• Socio-economic impact and recovery.
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 will help 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, including among People Living With Disabilities, 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. Findings from the impact studies have resulted in a series of policy notes on the disease’s impact on fiscal space and development spending, which will be used to inform recovery plans. As part of our early recovery efforts, UNDP will also make welfare payments to vulnerable communities affected by the disease, focusing on survivors and families who lost relatives or are helping orphaned children, as well as those who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the crisis.
How can private sector support?
UNDP recognizes the important role the private sector can play in combating Ebola. We would welcome strategic partnerships in the Ebola effected countries as well as donations, pro-bono goods and services in selected areas. For more information go to www.undp.org/privatesector