Ebola and the Private Sector

Bolstering the response and West African economies

Publication date: 9 December 2014
Author: Debbie Hillier, Humanitarian Policy Advisor, Oxfam GB; Ruth Mhlanga, Private Sector Policy Advisor, Oxfam GB; Suzanne Zweben, Private Sector Policy and Campaigns Advisor, Oxfam America

Ebola is a humanitarian crisis first and foremost – but it is also a mounting economic disaster for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The World Bank estimates the cost of the epidemic to be $3-4 billion by the end of 2015, many times more than the amount donated for the response so far. The economic impact is measurable in terms of reduced production, diminished trade, disrupted agriculture, higher fiscal deficits and rising prices. Household incomes are dropping due to the reduction in the labor market, the loss of harvests, disruption of markets, and laying off of workers. In Liberia, nearly half of those working when the outbreak was first detected in March 2014 no longer had jobs by early November.

This briefing shows how important the private sector is to both the response to Ebola and the recovery. It urges:

  • All companies to contribute directly and urgently to the international Ebola response;
  • Companies with operations and supply chains in affected countries to be at the forefront in the fight against Ebola – to keep their business operations open and to support long-term economic recovery.

It is one of a series of Oxfam briefings on the Ebola crisis and response.