WASHINGTON, December 17, 2014—The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$30 million grant to support the Government of Sierra Leone in its efforts to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by the Ebola crisis.
Today’s financing includes a US$10 million grant from the World Bank Group’s International Development Association’s (IDA)* Crisis Response Window (CRW), which is designed to help low-income IDA countries recover from severe disasters and crises.
The Emergency Economic and Fiscal Support Operation will support Sierra Leone as it seeks to bring the Ebola epidemic under control by strengthening government budget management and reducing fiscal risks heightened by the crisis.
“The advent of the Ebola virus in May 2014 and the subsequent acceleration of the outbreak in late July have put extraordinary strain on the country,” said Francis Ato Brown, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone. “This operation will benefit the people of Sierra Leone and the global community by minimizing the economic impact of the outbreak and thereby improving prospects for jobs, growth and other livelihood enhancing activities.”
Since the escalation of the Ebola epidemic in mid-2014, the country has put significant budget resources into battling the epidemic, placing at risk, the progress made in recent years to stabilize the country’s fragile economy.
The operation supports efforts by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to establish a formal hazard payment system for the growing number of clinical and non-clinical health workers responding to the Ebola crisis.
The operation also supports Government efforts to strengthen cash management and reduce budgetary financing costs, with a view to ensuring a consistent flow of budget resources to service delivery agencies.
“The deepening of the Ebola epidemic has altered government priorities putting many of the medium term public financial management reforms on hold,” said Cyrus Talati, World Bank Task Team Leader for the operation. “This funding responds to an urgent request from the government for help to finance the 2014 budget, which has had to contend with both falling revenues as a result of Ebola and higher spending needs to respond to the epidemic.”
The World Bank Group is mobilizing nearly $1 billion in financing for the countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis. This includes $518 million in IDA financing for the emergency response, and at least $450 million from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to enable trade, investment and employment in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The $518 million is helping the three countries provide treatment and care, contain and prevent the spread of infections, help communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis, and improve public health systems.
The Emergency Economic and Fiscal Support operation is consistent with the government’s Ebola response plan and the Agenda for Prosperity which sets out Sierra Leone’s vision of an inclusive, green and middle-income country by 2035.
*The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.