The African Development Bank and the government of Sierra Leone have launched a project to support 3,000 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) survivors and orphans, and other vulnerable sectors of society in the country.
Through the Post Ebola Recovery Social Investment Fund Project (PERSIF), the Bank is providing $13.5 million in grants from the African Development Fund and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative Trust Fund. Affected communities have been further hit by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic devastation caused by resulting lockdowns.
The 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone took a heavy toll on communities, education, health care infrastructure and basic social services, said Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio at the official project launch, held on 30 July 2020.
“Vulnerable populations including orphans, elderly people, physically challenged, the sick, women and children were significantly affected,” President Bio added. “It is my pleasure to thank the Africa Development Bank for providing this grant with an extra care of hands.”
The support will target youth, women, men, children, people with disabilities and the elderly. Health workers, community volunteers and social protection officers will also benefit from the scheme as well as 2,000 micro and small entrepreneurs including cross-border traders.
A representative of the Ebola survivors, Randa Sesay, also thanked the Bank for providing assistance. “The project will ensure that, as survivors, we have the right access to basic social services. We are optimistic that it will benefit and improve our lives, especially women and children.”
Sierra Leone’s Minister Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa offered assurances that the government would effectively support project implementation. “This project will go a long way to support citizens abandoned for years. We are ready to provide counterpart financing,” he added.
The Bank’s Country Manager for Sierra Leone, Dr. Peninah Kariuki, describing the project said, “the objective is to enhance resilience in communities that bore the brunt of Ebola”. She also noted that “ today’s COVID-19 crisis only poses further challenges. The Bank stands with you as you address the economic, health and social challenges that have emanated from the pandemic.”