The Ebola outbreak from West Africa may cost the countries from the region up to $15 billion over the next three years, as trade, tourism and investment were greatly affected.
According to a report by the United Nations, the Ebola epidemic, the worst of its kind in history, has killed nearly 10,000 people in the three most affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The nations are one of the most developed in the world, and the Ebola crisis has deepened poverty.
Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Africa director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that the consequences of Ebola are huge. West Africa was almost shut down from the rest of the world, and the epidemic has caused considerable damage, indirectly affecting the economy of the entire region.
The report was recently released by the United Nations Development Group, a consortium of U.N. agencies. It argues that in the best-case scenario, West Africa will lose approximately $3.6 billion per year for the next three years, and only after that the economies are expected to start their recovery. On the other hand, the worst-case scenario evaluates the losses at $4.9 billion per year over three years.
According to the study, women, especially from rural communities, and the poor will be hit the hardest. In Guinea, almost 85 percent of the potato trade with neighboring Sierra Leone is done by women, but since the epidemic started, the border is closed.
Poverty will deepen in this area, more than 22 percent of the inhabitants of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea could end up under the poverty line of $1.25 a day by 2016.
The unprecedented Ebola epidemic will also affect countries where only a few or none cases were reported, like Senegal, Nigeria, Mali or Ivory Coast. In the latter, poverty rate could rise by 2.7 percent in 2016, according to the research.
The World Bank estimated in January that Ebola’s impact on African economies would be at only $500 million, after the first report predicted losses of over $25 billion.
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have set a 60-day target to eliminate Ebola by mid-April. The only country who cleared the disease from it’s territory seems to be Liberia, where no Ebola cases were reported over the last week.
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