With Chealy Brown Dennis
The head of the African Development Bank expressed concern on Saturday that some donors responding to the Ebola crisis were repackaging aid money, funneling it away from other areas in need in the three countries at the centre for the epidemic.
In an interview, Donald Kaberuka said moving funds from already allocated development projects in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone was unhelpful in the long term and make their rebuilding harder.
“I have told donors that I hope what they are announcing is additional resources because if it isn’t …once (Ebola) is gone we will have no resources to build health care systems and continue reconstruction,” Kaberuka told Reuters on the sidelines of meetings in Washington of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
“We need to put new money on the table,” he said, adding that he feared that once the crisis eased countries would be left without funding for development projects earmarked before Ebola arrived.
Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever, has killed more than 4 000 people since March in an epidemic centred around the three impoverished countries.
The outbreak has reverberated throughout the three countries’ economies, hampering mining, disrupting the farming and service sectors and prompting concerns that it will scare away the huge investment interested that existed before Ebola.
After getting off to a slow start, the international response to the Ebola crisis has gathered steam with donors pledging hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.
Kaberuka has criticized the international response to the Ebola outbreak as too little, too late.
“It was treated as a small, local public health problem in a remote part of Africa with no global significance,” said Kaberuka, a former finance minister from Rwanda. It should be treated just as Sars and mad cow disease were and not as a disease of Africans, he said.
Kaberuka said it was vital that the aid money go through budgets of the governments of the three countries to help them better coordinate the response. The bulk of foreign aid was going toward supporting aid agencies, international care and food supplies, he added.
“We need to make sure that the governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have money in their budgets to pay health workers, to ensure they have the ability to coordinate all of this,” he said. “In a situation like this there are so many little things happening but somebody has to tie it together and that can only be a government.”
The AfDB itself has pledged $210m to the three countries and is open to putting more on the table if needed, said Kaberuka. The World Health Organisation estimated that $1bn will be needed to be spent to limit the spread of Ebola.
The region needed to quickly show it was in control of the situation to maintain investor confidence, said Kaberuka.
But he said businesses also had to step up to help with logistics, including mobile phone companies, soft drink firms, and mining companies. (Fin24)