As the human tragedy of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa continues to escalate with 2,461 already dead, the World Bank has warned the economic impact could deal a catastrophic blow to already fragile countries.
World Bank analysts say the impact on the three core countries is already serious and if containment of the virus is slow, the impact could result in economic costs numbering in the billions.
The World Bank estimates:
- Short-term impacts on output of 2.1 percentage points of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in Guinea, 3.4 in Liberia and 3.3 in Sierra.
- Short-term fiscal impacts at $93 million for Liberia, $79 million for Sierra Leone and $120 million Guinea.
- Inflation and food prices are now increasing in response to shortages, panic buying and speculation with families already vulnerable to food price shocks becoming increasingly exposed.
As the chart below shows, the likely economic impact of the Ebola epidemic will be significant for the affected countries in any of the three scenarios, even assuming the outbreak can be brought under control this calendar year.
However, the scenario in which the epidemic is not swiftly contained promises to leave a much deeper economic scar.
For the three core countries, the forfeited GDP in 2015 comes to $97 million in the Low Ebola case and a striking $809 million in the High Ebola case.
The World Bank’s emergency response to the crisis is to help contain the spread of infection, assist countries in coping with the economic impact and improve public health systems throughout West Africa.
The bank is mobilising a $230 million financing package for the three countries hardest hit by Ebola.
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