OCTOBER 21, 2014 By Josephine A. Seppeh
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it needs a further US$24 million over six months to continue assistance to the Ebola emergency operation in Sierra Leone.
The organization last Friday distributed over 800 metric tons of food items to the Waterloo community in the Western Rural District, and one of the worst affected areas in the country.
The food items, which include rice and super cereal, were distributed to 265,000 people in the community and it is their biggest distribution so far since the outbreak.
The distribution was done in partnership with Caritas, Community Integrated Development Organisation (CIDO), civil society and youth volunteers, with the WFP mobilizing up to 700 aid workers to assist in the distribution, which lasted for a day.
“Providing food to such a large number of people in one day is a challenge. We have to mobilize more staff and put people into smaller groups in order to speed up the distribution process and to reduce risks for the people receiving food and for the staff as a whole, since Waterloo has been identified as one of the communities that have the highest cases of Ebola virus in recent days,” said Gon Myers, WFP Country Director in Sierra Leone.
According to Myers, the agency is working closely with the Sierra Leone government, NGOs and UN agencies to ensure timely delivery of food assistance to all Ebola-affected persons in treatment centres and quarantined households, “to prevent this health crisis from becoming a food and nutrition crisis”.
The distribution was aimed at creating stability in quarantined homes by providing enough food in order to prevent movement in and out of quarantined households in search of food.
Waterloo is just among the few that WFP has distributed food items to since the outbreak. The organisation and its partners have provided food to Ebola affected persons across the country since the outbreak started in May, with the aim of reaching 600,000 people that might be infected.
The United Nations agency is also supplying vital technical assistance to medical partners in this health emergency in the form of construction, logistics, procurement and transport.