Fund Shortage Imperils UN Agency’s Ebola Response as Need Grows

Aug 29, 2014 3:57 pm ET

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations food agency said inadequate supplies are snarling its efforts to feed 1.3 million people in Ebola-stricken Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The three West African nations are at the heart of this year’s outbreak of the deadly viral illness, and have borne the brunt of a death toll estimated by the World Health Organization at more than 1,500. Governments have imposed quarantines and shut down trade and transport routes, increasing the hardship for millions of people in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The World Food Programme has suspended distribution in Guinea after managing to get supplies to about 40,000 people spokesman Steve Taravella said in an e-mail, even as need is projected to grow to 404,000. It will take $70 million to continue food distribution in all three countries, he said.

The agency, which has increased its projections for the numbers in need of food aid in the three countries by about a third, “urgently needs funding to be able to purchase food and scale up its assistance,” Taravella wrote.

In Sierra Leone, 16,000 people have received assistance and the WFP aims to serve 400,000. In Liberia, food has gone to 57,000 people in quarantined areas, and the goal is to reach more than 400,000, Taravella said.