A Liberian Ministry of Health worker checks people for Ebola symptoms at a checkpoint near the international airport on August 24, 2014, near Dolo Town, Liberia. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Ebola Idles Nearly Half of Liberia Workforce

Nov. 21, 2014
Nearly half of the workforce in Liberia is no longer working since the onset of the deadly Ebola epidemic just a few months ago.

WASHINGTON — Nearly half of the workforce in Liberia is no longer working since the onset of the deadly Ebola epidemic just a few months ago, according to the World Bank.

The disease has killed over 2,800 people in Liberia, ravaging the local economies and leaving many with too little money to buy food, it said.

The recent Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 5,200 people overall, mostly in three West African countries.

"Even those living in the most remote communities in Liberia, where Ebola has not been detected, are suffering the economic side effects of this terrible disease," said Ana Revenga, senior director of the Poverty Global Practice at the World Bank. "Relief efforts must focus not only on those directly affected by the virus, but also on those in the poorest communities for whom market access, mobility, and food security continue to get worse."

Collecting data on activity of Liberian households via mobile phone surveys, the Bank said that the hardest-hit were the self-employed working in markets where activity has dried up because of Ebola fears.

"Overall, only about 36% of previously self-employed workers outside of agriculture and about half of those originally engaged in wage labor are still working since the crisis unfolded," it said.

The farm sector has shown more resilience in the face of the disease, but at the same time food prices have rocketed, including a 40% spike in the price of imported rice in October, it said.

But more than 70% of those surveyed said that regardless of the price, they lack enough money to pay for food, the World Bank said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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