Head of UNDP Africa at donor briefing on EbolaNov 13, 2014
The current Ebola crisis is decimating lives, destroying communities and orphaning children at a rate not seen since the end of conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone in particular. If the outbreak is not contained, much of the socio-economic and political gains achieved after the end of the conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the democratic transition in Guinea could be reversed.
The crisis caused by Ebola must not lead to economic collapse. While the death and suffering caused by Ebola is immediate and must be stopped, the socio-economic impacts of the disease will last long after Ebola has been brought under control. Household incomes across entire nations have declined by as much as one-third in six months.
The Secretary-General has warned that the potential humanitarian, economic and social impact of the Ebola epidemic beyond the three most affected countries. Concrete support was received from African partners to date, in particular Ghana’s leadership as chair of the ECOWAS (could mention some of the commendable decisions taken in the recent ECOWAS extraordinary meeting, such as their commitment of free movement of people and goods in the ECOWAS region), Senegal’s humanitarian corridor, and South Africa’s support in providing Autoclaves. These South-South partnerships contributed to the immediate response and stress that UNDP will be working closely with these partners and others to prevent the spread of EVD in non-affected but high risk countries.
The regional dimension of the crisis requires close collaboration between regional organizations such as ECOWAS, Manor River Union, AU and the Governments. UNDP is doing this through a coordinated regional response involving the UNDG Regional Directors Team based in Senegal with support from Governments in the ECOWAS sub-region.
UNDP can offer expertise and strong partnerships with national Governments and help bolster countries’ efforts to recover from the crisis. The international community must help prevent further infections, ensure timely treatment, and provide social safety nets for those most vulnerable and marginalized, especially women, who are the main caregivers. UNDP is also working with partners including national institutions on impact assessments, scenario planning and designing recovery plans.
As part of the UNDP Ebola Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ECRRP), UNDP is working with Governments and other key stakeholders to: support coordination and delivery of essential health care and other basic services; help with social mobilization and community engagement; and plan for early recovery.
UNDP is a leader within the UN system on early recovery efforts, and supporting nationally led efforts to address the crisis. UNDP has realigned its programmes in the three-most affected countries in West Africa to focus on the crisis, deploying extra personnel, and working closely with the governments to bolster their ability to cope with the crisis.