RENO, Nevada — In an effort to stimulate agriculture and ward off hunger in Ebola-stricken nations, the World Bank raised over $15 million in emergency grant funding to provide over 10,500 tons of corn seed, rice seed and fertilizer to more than 200,000 farmers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in time for the spring planting season.
The Ebola crisis has heavily impacted the agricultural and food sectors of all three countries, which proves especially problematic given the current prevalence of malnutrition and food insecurity in West Africa.
According to the latest estimates by FAO and the World Food Programme reported by the World Bank, 170,000 people in Liberia are food insecure, along with another 230,000 in Guinea and 120,000 in Sierra Leone. Without proper agricultural intervention, the World Bank estimates these numbers could nearly double in each of the respective countries within the next few months.
In Liberia, the Ebola crisis hit hardest during the cropping and harvesting periods, a time in which rural evacuations led to “large-scale shortages of farm labor,” the World Bank reports. In Sierra Leone, the country’s most fertile agricultural region, known as Kailahun, was also an “epicenter of the epidemic.”
Reports indicate that some “desperate farmers have resorted to eating stored seed originally intended for use in the next cropping cycle.”
Further movement restrictions in the three countries have hindered farmers’ abilities to perform necessary tasks like harvesting crops, marketing produce, preparing fields for planting and maintaining a steady supply of seed for planting in the next season.
Both the International Development Association, or IDA, and the Ebola Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund provided the funding necessary to carry out the intervention. The aid was granted through the World Bank Group’s West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program, or WAAPP, that spans 13 West African countries, including the three Ebola-hit nations.
To date, the World Bank Group, a multilateral partnership that provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world, has raised about $1 billion in funds for the countries most impacted by the Ebola crisis.
The funds include about $518 million from IDA, the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, to “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.”
Another $450 million comes from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to “enable trade, investment and employment.”
– Katrina Beedy