Target: The World Bank, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and other international donors.
Goal: Cancel crippling debt and provide aid for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
West African leaders are calling for follow through on promises to relieve debt to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the nations most affected by the recent devastating Ebola virus outbreak. The leaders are also asking for $5-6 billion in aid over two years to rebuild their economies.
The deadly Ebola virus has not only claimed the lives of 10,000 people since it struck West Africa just a year ago, but it has also left 25,791 people diagnosed with the disease. Such a major loss in population has been tremendously disruptive socially and economically. Workers fled, unemployment skyrocketed, healthcare systems broke down, and schools closed.
In Liberia, children whose parents cannot afford private tutors can listen to school lessons provided by the government and nonprofits over the radio, however many children aren’t listening because they have to help their parents make money selling things like trinkets or food. How is a nation supposed to pay down debts under circumstances that don’t even allow them to invest in their next generation?
Recently, infection rates have fallen sharply. Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma said this is the time to get moving on a regional reconstruction plan on the scale of the Marshall plans which rebuilt Europe after World War II as promised by the World Bank. If international donors can cancel their debts and give them enough aid, Koroma says his nation’s farmers will have equipment, fertilizer, and seeds in time for April-May rice planting season. Rice is a staple in Sierra Leone where food shortages have led to over 600,000 people without enough to eat.
The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international donors could easily afford to write off these debts, while Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea cannot easily afford to pay off these debts and keep their economies afloat. Urge these donors to cancel these debts, provide nation restoring aid as promised, and deliver this aid in the form of grants, not debt-increasing loans.
Dear President Kim, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ms. Lagarde, et al.,
As you are aware, the nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were devastated socially and economically by the Ebola outbreak. It is not possible for these nations to recover economically and rebuild in a financially sustainable way while paying down debts that could easily be cancelled by your institutions.
West Africa is in dire need of aid and the implementation of the large-scale Marshall Plan promised to them by the World Bank. Other nations in the area were negatively economically impacted by the deadly outbreak. A timely plan executed in the next few weeks would help to prevent further ruin in West Africa and the need for even more aid in the region in the near future.
I urge you to provide aid before the peak of the rice planting season to ensure estimates of over 600,000 people going hungry will not become a reality. I also urge you to cancel Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea’s debt so they may have a chance to recover from their recent tragedies and that any aid given them be given in the form of grants, not loans.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: UK Department for International Development via Flickr