Liberia: “We will maintain the fight against Ebola”

Liberia: “We will maintain the fight against Ebola”

25/03/2015

Jeffery Manwean lives in Sehyikimpa in Nimba County, Liberia. He lost eight members of his family and was unable to harvest his crops because of Ebola. “My second daughter visited Ganta [Ebola hotspot] just south of the Guinea border for two weeks, against my advice. She returned sick and died four days later.” Jeffery participated in the burial ceremony. “I was quarantined and my other daughter came to visit and was quarantined together with eight members of my family including my mom. One by one my children passed away. When my breast-feeding nine-month old child died, I became confused and disorderly. I was taken to the Ebola Treatment Unit and of the 10 family members, only me and my mother-in-law survived. I am not working. I lost my farm and family.”

Today the small farming community is still recovering from the impact of the disease, and FAO’s arrival came just in time, said Gabriel Dunbar, the District Commissioner, to the FAO team during a recent field visit. “I just want to commend FAO for coming to see our citizens for possible outreach. The people of this town were not taught how to keep safe. It was a collective effort that kept us alive. And we will maintain the fight against Ebola” Considering the huge needs of the people affected by Ebola, development workers say Liberia’s post-Ebola recovery efforts, mainly in the agriculture sector, are enormous. In her State of the Nation address on 15 January 2015, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf underscored the effects of the EVD outbreak and Liberians’ determination to recover, “I can say today that despite all of this, our nation has remained strong; our people resilient; our commitment renewed and our faith restored.”

FAO remains an integral part of this effort. FAO’s Representative in Liberia, Mr Marc Abdala, emphasized FAO’s most pressing concerns “One of the major priorities of FAO to date is to help make Ebola history in 2015 through supporting as many families as possible in food production and the restoration of destroyed livelihoods. This is essential for rural people’s economies.”

In the framework of its Response Programme to the EVD outbreak in West Africa, FAO has developed national response programmes for the most affected countries including Liberia which aims at urgently developing local capacities within communities to continue to contribute to the prevention of the spread of the disease while avoiding damage to the local economy. This strategy has four main focus areas: to save lives by helping to stop the spread of the disease, to boost incomes and agricultural production to safeguard livelihoods, to reduce risks and improve early warning systems and emergency response, and to strengthen coordination for improved response.