Key Points

  • The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has required increasing amounts of external support from donors (for more information on the outbreak, see KFF’s explainer). Yet there has been limited information about donor funding to date and a lack of a centralized reporting mechanism for tracking funding.
  • This analysis provides, for the first time, an overview of donor funding for the DRC Ebola response by source. Highlights include:
    • We estimate that from August 2018, when the outbreak began, through September 2019, approximately $594 million was provided by donors to address Ebola in the DRC.
    • More than half (57.6%) was provided by donor governments bilaterally, including the U.S., with a large share (40.5%) provided by multilateral and international organizations and a small proportion (1.8%) provided by non-profits, such as private foundations.
    • The U.S. provided the largest amount of support ($196 million), followed by the World Bank ($130 million), the World Health Organization (WHO) Contingency Fund for Emergencies ($73 million), the United Kingdom ($64 million), and the European Commission ($52 million).
    • Less than half of funding (46%), including about a quarter of U.S. funding, was provided in direct support of the official DRC response plans, which guide national response strategy and enumerate resource needs. This could have implications for the coordination of donor efforts and whether funding is being directed to the most critical or pressing activities.
    • There is also considerable uncertainty about the future of U.S. support since it is unclear how much funding remains available for use in the response, whether the current administration will request additional funds, and whether Congress will provide such funding.

Donor Funding for the DRC Response

Based on analysis of publicly available information, we estimate that donors provided approximately $594 million in overall financial support for the DRC Ebola response from August 2018, when the outbreak began, through September 2019 (see Table 1). We attributed funding to donor governments for Ebola when designated for this purpose, whether provided bilaterally to the DRC or earmarked for Ebola but provided to a multilateral organization or instrument. We attributed funding to a multilateral organization where that multilateral organization specifically designated general funds for this purpose. Data sources are provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Donor Funding for the Current Ebola Response in the DRC
(Aug. 2018 – Sept. 2019)
Donor Estimated Funding
(in US$ millions)
Data Source
TOTAL 593.5  
Donor Governments 342.1
     Australia 0.4 DRC/Partners SRP 3
     Canada 1.4 DRC/Partners SRP 3
     China 2.0 WHO
     Denmark 0.4 OCHA
     European Commission 52.4 European Commission
     France 1.0 OCHA
     Germany 5.3 OCHA
     Ireland 2.3 OCHA
     Italy 0.9 OCHA
     Japan 5.1 OCHA
     Luxembourg 0.6 WHO
     Norway 3.5 OCHA
     South Korea 1.0 WHO
     Sweden 4.2 WHO
     Switzerland 1.4 OCHA
     United Kingdom 64.2 U.K.; WHO
     United States 196.0 USAID
          Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data not available n/a
          U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) 196.0 USAID
               -Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) 147.1 USAID
               -Food for Peace (FFP) 37.0 USAID
               -Bureau for Global Health (GH) and USAID Missions 12.0 USAID
Multilateral and International Organizations 240.6
     African Development Bank 1.0 WHO
     Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance 13.1 Gavi
     UNICEF 0.3 DRC/Partners SRP2
     U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 12.6 U.N. CERF
     U.N. OCHA/DRC Humanitarian Fund 10.0 Humanitarian Fund
     WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) 73.1 WHO/CFE
     World Bank 130.0 World Bank; WHO
          Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility 50.0 World Bank; WHO
          International Development Association 80.0 World Bank
     World Food Programme (WFP) 0.5 DRC/Partners SRP 3
Non-Profits and Others 10.9
     Gates Foundation 6.0 WHO
     Paul Allen Foundation 0.7 WHO
     Wellcome Trust 4.2 WHO
NOTES: May not sum to subtotal/total due to rounding. Does not include funding provided by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) government itself. OCHA amounts include commitments and paid contributions, not pledges and in-kind contributions. U.N.: United Nations. UNICEF: U.N. Children’s Fund. OCHA: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

More than half (57.6%) of this funding was provided by donor governments bilaterally, including the U.S., with a large share (40.5%) provided by multilateral and international organizations, such as the World Bank, and a small proportion (1.8%) provided by non-profits, such as private foundations.

The U.S. government was the largest donor, having provided $196.0 million for activities within the DRC (see Figure 1 and Box 1), followed by the World Bank ($130 million), the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies ($73.1 million), the United Kingdom ($64.2 million), and the European Commission ($52.4 million).

Figure 1: Top 10 Donors to the Current Ebola Response in the DRC (Aug. 2018 – Sept. 2019)

Box 1: Key Sources of U.S. Funding for the DRC Ebola Response
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
All of the USAID response funds to date have been drawn from unspent FY 2015 emergency Ebola supplemental appropriations, originally provided by Congress in December 2015. These funds, from USAID’s International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account, were designated for “assistance for countries affected by, or at risk of being affected by,” Ebola.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Although CDC has yet to publicly announce the amount of funding it has provided for the outbreak response in the DRC over the past year, its Ebola response funds from Aug. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019, have been drawn from unspent FY 2015 emergency Ebola supplemental appropriations designated for Ebola international preparedness and response; according to communication with the agency, this funding was expected to be exhausted by the end of FY 2019, when it was due to expire. Congress has stated that CDC may use existing funds (up to $20 million) in the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund, which was established in FY 2019 with $50 million, for CDC Ebola response activities under a continuing resolution (CR) for FY 2020 that goes through Nov. 21, 2019.

Funding for National Response Plans

The DRC government, U.N. agencies such as WHO, and other partners prepared four DRC national Strategic Response Plans (“the plans”) to guide and enumerate resource needs for the Ebola response (see Table 2). We found that less than half (46%, $272 million) of donor funding for the response – including about a quarter (24%, $46.2 million) of U.S. funding – was identified as directly supporting the national plans.

Table 2: Funding Requested for the DRC Ebola Response Under National Plans
(Aug. 2018 – Dec. 2019)
Period Funding Requested
(in U.S. $ millions)
Plan
Aug. – Oct. 2018 43.8 Strategic Response Plan 1
Nov. 2018 – Jan. 2019 61.3 Strategic Response Plan 2
Feb. – July 2019 147.9 Strategic Response Plan 3
July – Dec. 2019 287.6 Strategic Response Plan 4
NOTES: Reflects support for public health response activities; the current plan is complemented by a broader strategy that addresses additional activities related to the response. DRC: Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Donors met the funding requests in the first two plans and mostly met that of the third plan. As of the end of September, they have provided $58.8 million toward the fourth plan, which requests $287.6 million for public health response activities from July through December 2019.

Authorities in the DRC have also requested an additional $225.6 million for July through December 2019 under a broader strategy that includes other activities, such as economic development, to address social conditions that drive the outbreak. In support of this broader strategy, some donors have pledged more funding. The World Bank, for example, pledged up to an additional $300 million ($30 million of which has already been provided), and the United Kingdom pledged up to an additional $62.6 million, or £50 million ($9.7 million, or £8 million, of this funding has already been provided for preparedness efforts in neighboring countries).

Key Issues for the U.S. and Other Stakeholders

Maintaining a robust response to Ebola in the DRC over the next several months, and maybe even longer, will require additional donor funding. As such, there are several issues for the U.S. and other donors to consider:

  • Overall, information on donor financing is limited and fragmented. No systematic resource or tool for tracking contributions exists, a situation made more complex because the Ebola response is taking place in the context of a broad set of humanitarian crises with multiple multilateral and bilateral funding mechanisms contributing resources across a spectrum of activities (see KFF explainer). For the U.S. specifically, while some data are available, the full range of funding information has not been provided.
  • Coordination of donor funding outside official national response plans is unclear. With only half of donor funding for the response – including about a third of U.S. financial support – identifiable as directly supporting the official national response plans, it is not clear whether donor efforts are being coordinated effectively and funding provided for the most critical or pressing activities, including those identified under the official national response plans. With regard to the U.S. specifically, there is limited information about how U.S. funding and efforts are coordinated with U.N. and DRC-led efforts.
  • The status of U.S. funding going forward is uncertain. It is unclear how much funding remains available for use in the U.S. response, whether the current administration will request additional funds, and whether Congress will provide such funding. At USAID, it is unclear what funds remain in the leftover FY 2015 emergency Ebola funding being used for response activities. At CDC, all leftover FY 2015 emergency Ebola funding was to be spent out entirely by the end of FY 2019, but the agency may use up to $20 million from the emergency reserve fund for its Ebola activities in FY 2020 through Nov. 21, 2019 (see Box 1).