Sierra Leone – The African Development Bank, participating in the sub-regional technical and ministerial meeting on a post-Ebola economic recovery strategy, said the Bank’s Ebola response strategy identified international association the Mano River Union (MRU) Secretariat as a key partner and catalytic institution essential for supporting the regional dimension of the fight against Ebola.
This was said by the Bank’s country representative for Sierra Leone Yero Baldeh, who further noted that the African Development Bank fully recognises the relevance of a regional approach in the fight to contain the Ebola outbreak in the region.
The post-Ebola economic recovery was convened by MRU in Freetown, Sierra Leone, between March 16 and March 18; one year after the World Health Organisation declared an Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
So bad was the Ebola outbreak on the economy that a report by the International Monetary Fund estimates that the country’s economy is set to shrink by about 13 % in 2015 after estimated growth of 6 % in 2014.
Sierra Leone Minister of Finance Kaifala Marah in his keynote address at the conference urged the participants to think together as a team and do what they have been mandated by heads of state of the MRU countries in the meeting held in Conakry on February 15, 2015.
This is to conclude a strategy to achieve zero status in the region by April 15, 2015; to consolidate the MRU strategy ahead of the World Bank Spring Meetings to be held between April 17 and19 in Washington; to revisit the African Development Bank MRU Initiative, which according to him serves as an important platform and framework for post-Ebola recovery; and to define the establishment of a Regional Trust Fund and its implementation framework.
Baldeh also emphasised the need for the three affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to not just overcome the crisis by getting to zero cases and sustaining it, but also to use this opportunity to build stronger and more resilient capacity and institutions. These institutions will enable the countries return to their pre-Ebola development trajectory and also withstand future epidemics and shocks, he said.
Statements were also made by other development partners, including the European Union, the United Nations and the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare from Guinea.
The recurring theme in the statements at the opening ceremony was the need to galvanize efforts to sustain the gains made and achieve zero status in all the countries and the need for a well-articulated post-Ebola recovery strategy that will address the critical impact and challenges resulting from the outbreak.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and development partners working in the MRU region including the European Union and United Nations agencies.