The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) today recommended that creditors should seriously consider debt cancellation for the countries worst-hit by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. “Educational systems, rising social stigma, unemployment, and decreased food security are some of the big issues that Ebola-affected countries must deal with,” according to study on the Socio-Economic Impacts of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) on Africa released today by the Addis Ababa based UN regional forum. ECA Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes noted that “while the social and economic situation in the three most affected countries is dramatic, the crisis for Africa as a Continent is exaggerated.”
“Although Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have suffered serious Gross Domestic Product (GDP) losses, the effects on both West Africa and the continent as a whole will be minimal, partly because, on the basis of 2013’s estimates, the three economies together account for only 2.42 per cent of West Africa’s GDP and 0.68 per cent of Africa’s,” according to the report.
Mr. Lopes also noted that one of most important recommendations is for debt cancellation for the 3 affected countries, referring to the report’s urging that bilateral and multilateral creditors should “seriously consider” such a move “because ”these countries will find it highly burdensome to meet their international debt obligations.” The report also raised the alarm on the risk of a rise in mortality of diseases not related to Ebola and points out the wider impacts of the virus on the livelihoods of those affected.