The 1930s witnessed the second

Economy of West Africa

Liberian workers dismantle shelters in an Ebola treatment center in the Paynes Ville neighborhood of Monrovia. Doctors Without Borders closed the center last month because it was no longer needed. Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Liberian workers dismantle shelters in an Ebola treatment center in the Paynes Ville neighborhood of Monrovia. Doctors Without Borders closed the center last month because it was no longer needed.

Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images

West Africa is about to receive a hefty infusion of cash. This Friday the World Bank unveiled a major aid package for the three West African countries at the center of this past year's Ebola epidemic.

Over the next 18 months, the bank plans to provide Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea $650 million in recovery assistance, mostly in the form of grants. The African Development Bank followed suit Friday with a pledge of about $300 million in similar funding.

Sierra Leone health officials check people passing through the border with Liberia in Jendema last month. For the past two weeks, Sierra Leone has recorded only nine cases. Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images

Sierra Leone health officials check people passing through the border with Liberia in Jendema last month. For the past two weeks, Sierra Leone has recorded only nine cases.

Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images

Combined with additional new promises by other international organizations and governments, the three affected countries will be getting more than $1 billion. Those additions boost the total international commitment to Ebola recovery since the outbreak began by about a third, the advocacy group One Campaign reports.

Still, the economic and social repercussions of the epidemic continue to reverberate.

In Sierra Leone, the Ebola crisis coincided with a plunge in the price of iron ore, one of the country's major exports. The economy there could end up contracting by more than 20 percent in 2015, the World Bank estimates.

Guinea's economy is stagnating. Liberia is projected to see growth rates of about 3 percent, but that's still well below the pre-Ebola estimates of 6.8 percent.

Back in July, the streets of Kailahun, Sierra Leone, were empty because of the Ebola crisis. Local shops and restaurants suffered from the lack of business. Tommy Trenchard for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Back in July, the streets of Kailahun, Sierra Leone, were empty because of the Ebola crisis. Local shops and restaurants suffered from the lack of business.

Tommy Trenchard for NPR

At the same time, all three countries are plagued with poor infrastructure and fragile health systems — which are still reeling from the loss of dozens of health workers to Ebola.

Meanwhile, the effort to bring cases down to zero continues to grind forward. Liberia has not had a single new case since late March. Sierra Leone is in sight of that goal as well, said the World Health Organization's Bruce Aylward at a news conference Thursday. He noted that for the past two weeks there have been only nine new cases confirmed there.

"They [Sierra Leone] are down to numbers where they can drive this to zero, " Aylward said.

Another hopeful sign is that a large share of new infections — nearly 70 percent — are occurring in people whom health officials had already been tracking because they were known to have been in contact with an Ebola patient. That's important because it suggests health officials are doing a good job of identifying potential transmission chains.

Source: www.npr.org
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