Preventing and tracking Ebola in local communities

Sep 12, 2014


imageCitizens of Bomi County, Liberia, wait for a visit of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. August 2014. Photo: UNDP in Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia — Working with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, County Superintendents and County Ebola Task Forces in all of Liberia’s 15 counties, UNDP is boosting public information and sensitization campaigns; forging partnerships with traditional and religious leaders to promote Ebola prevention awareness, as well as improving tracking of Ebola cases and tracing people who have had contact with those diagnosed with the virus.

Liberia is experiencing its worst epidemic outbreak in history, with severe impact on its national revenue, and significant risk to its economic and social structure. As the number of Ebola cases increases exponentially and the epidemic is affecting all sectors of society, a comprehensive response—going far beyond the health sector—is needed.

UNDP is therefore taking the lead in early recovery activities and is redirecting its current programme resources towards creating livelihoods and putting in place social protection mechanisms to enable the most vulnerable part of the population, especially women and young people, get back on their feet.

"Let’s keep in mind that this is not a post-crisis situation. We are in the midst of an expanding crisis, where action is needed at almost every level of society," said Antonio Vigilante, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Liberia.

A new analysis of the impact of Ebola points to significant changes in the country’s social fabric caused by Ebola’s human toll. As families who may have lost their key breadwinner struggle to make a living, they will need social safety nets in the form of cash transfers in order to cover emergency expenses and take part in the economic recovery. This support would also enhance social stability and security. Nearly 57 per cent of Liberia’s population live below the poverty line and 48 per cent of them live in extreme poverty—a majority of them are women and young people.

"When such a large part of the population lives in extreme poverty, it means that individuals and communities have little or no resilience when a crisis strikes," said Vigilante.

The service, agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors, jointly representing 82 per cent of the economy, are all severely affected by the economic slow-down caused by the crisis. Although the full impact of the epidemic is still unknown, the situation has evolved from a health crisis to a social and economic crisis affecting millions--with the potential of eroding development gains achieved over the last decade.

Contact Information

Trygve Olfarnes, UNDP Liberia, tel +231 888556611, email: trygve.olfarnes@undp.org