SEPTEMBER 26, 2014
While a successful three-day national stay at home Ebola campaign in which 80% of households were reached has ended, an intensive door-to-door Ebola campaign continues in Freetown.
Initiated and led by the Disaster Management Department (DMD) in the Office of National Security, with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the campaign focuses on the most densely populated and deprived communities in Freetown and had started before the three days stay-at-home national campaign.
The campaign engages a total of 200 volunteers, who are inhabitants of the targeted communities. Each community volunteer visits 30 to 40 households per day, reaching over half a million of the most vulnerable people in Freetown.
The communities reached include Moa Wharf, Falcon Bridge, Grey Bush, Congo Town, Mabayla and Kroo Bay communities, comprising the poorest communities in Freetown where more than half of the city’s two million people live. These communities are particularly at risk because they live in overcrowded households where poor hygiene awareness and practices prevail.
The Director of Disaster Management Department in the Office of National Security, Mary Mye-Kamara said: “This door to door community sensitization supports the national efforts led by the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). But we specifically aim at deprived communities that are more highly at risk. The sensitization is led by people from the communities themselves, people they trust and look up to. They will help educate their peers about how they can prevent their families and communities from the Ebola virus. A specific information for a specific communities gives us a unique chance to visit households, one by one, and make a real impact on the minds of people. Public outreach is vital to ending this crisis.”
Already, several of these communities have been affected by Ebola. UNDP Programme Manager Saskia Marijnissen said that densely populated areas, including some of Freetown slum areas are potential hotspots for the outbreak saying “The most vulnerable and hard-to-reach areas need to be covered. By doing so, we help to contain the spread of the virus and gather information for assisting them to withstand the crisis and developing prospective recovery activities.”
Kadiatu Kamara, one of the local volunteers from Kroo Bay said “We will reach out to the communities to pass specific information on Ebola. We are also reaching to the disabled, the blind, polio victims among others who require specific information and support to help them with prevention to stop the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease.”
UNDP has been working with the Disaster Management Department in the Office of National Security helping since 2004. UNDP has now re-focused its development interventions to support the Government and wider UN and International support against Ebola. Among others UNDP targets excluded and hard-to-reach communities with prevention messages, supports the media to promote social cohesion and hope, undertakes economic and social impacts assessment, supports conflict prevention and security sector for crisis management as well as helps the country prepare for post crisis recovery.