Ebola and Hunger in West Africa

On February 12, 2015, the World Bank Group announced $15 million in financing to supply record amounts of staple crop seed and fertilizer to the nations most heavily affected by the recent ebola virus outbreak: Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.  The funds will come from grants supplied by the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) and its Ebola Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund. 


The ebola epidemic has impacted food security, as many affected rural communities have struggled to keep up with growing and harvesting schedules.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that nearly half a million people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia will be food insecure by the end of March, 2015.  Meanwhile, the number of ebola cases in these countries has continued to rise, with over 260 new confirmed cases since the beginning of February. 


The World Bank’s press release states that the grants will “help lay the foundations for sustained recovery.”  Long-run, transformative efforts to improve public health and food security must include locally-driven implementation of the publicly-available knowledge contained in the Commons.  Tapping into public domain innovation allows for significant cost savings compared to purchasing solutions from markets in which those technologies are protected by intellectual property (IP) enclosure systems.


The Global Innovation Commons contains repositories of public domain innovation with the potential to have a transformative effect on West Africa’s ability to manage disease and food security crises.  The GIC has assembled sets of public domain innovation covering a variety of technologies useful in global agriculture, including conventional and organic fertilizers, biodigesters which can be used to convert agricultural waste into compost or fertilizer, drought-resistant growing aids, herbicides and fungicides, and pest control technologies.


View all of our GIC sets for Agriculture by country here:  http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/category/agriculture


Opportunities to contribute to the research, development, and implementation of ebola therapies and vaccines exist in the patent portfolios of multinational pharmaceutical firms, university research foundations, and private research labs.  Over 3,700 pieces of innovation useful in ebola treatment research exist with no legal protection in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the rest of the African continent, making them available for use by the public in those jurisdictions.



World Bank. “New World Bank Group Push to Revive Agriculture, Avert Hunger for over One Million People at Risk in Ebola-hit Countries.” 12 Feb. 2015. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/02/12/world-bank-group-revive-agriculture-avert-hunger-one-million-people-risk-ebola-countries

World Health Organization. “Ebola Situation reports.” 11 Feb. 2015. http://apps.who.int/ebola/en/current-situation/ebola-situation-report

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