After war and poverty, west Africa falls prey to Ebola

After war and poverty, west Africa falls prey to Ebola
Poverty, then war, and now, a deadly plague. Among the world’s poorest states at the bottom of global development indexes, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea had shown signs of leaving behind brutal wars and leaping into Africa’s economic boom, before a lethal Ebola epidemic struck.

As the world’s biggest outbreak ravages the populations of these small states from West Africa’s Mano River Region, their resource-dependent economies are reeling from the impact.

With the death toll more than 900, Ebola is hitting tourism, reducing travel and trade, and slowing farming and mining, delivering body blows to what had been buoyant GDP growth driven by increasing foreign investment, officials said.

‘A common feature of these three countries is they’re all fragile states,’ Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s vice president for Africa, said on a call with reporters.

‘It means that they’re countries that need more support from the international community in normal times ... And this external shock that they’re currently facing, this crisis, is taking them even further back,’ Diop said.

Liberia’s finance minister Amara Konneh said the outbreak had already cost his country’s economy $12 million between April and June, two percent of the budget, and the disease was still spreading. Liberia would have to revise down its projected GDP growth of 5.9 percent, he said.

‘We are scrambling for a response for this crisis ... If it is not contained it will have serious consequences for our economy,’ Konneh told Reuters.

In the ramshackle ocean-front capital Monrovia, still scarred by a 1989-2003 civil war, relatives of Ebola victims were dragging bodies into the dirt streets rather than face quarantine enforced by troops.



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