More than a health crisis
The Ebola epidemic that swept across much of West Africa may have been officially declared over, but the crisis had a far-reaching impact on stability and security in the already tense Mano River border regions.
The epidemic destroyed relationships between and within communities, creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion, as well as further eroding trust in local authorities, health workers and security officials. Responses to control the crisis such as quarantines and trade restrictions have had a severe economic impact on individuals and communities and further heightened levels of unrest.
During and after the Ebola crisis, many survivors and the families of victims have been ostracised from their communities. Orphelia is an Ebola survivor, read her story here.
We work to overcome and alleviate these tensions at a local level, by supporting 18 peacebuilding networks in the border regions of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. These District Platforms for Dialogue (DPDs) are comprised of trusted and respected community members, trained to identify areas of conflict and encourage discussion.
Through local meetings and events the DPDs are helping to destroy some of the myths around the spread of the Ebola virus and bringing together communities, local authorities and health workers to discuss their grievances and rebuild trust. By providing this space for dialogue, the DPDs are also supporting the reconciliation of Ebola survivors, families of victims and frontline Ebola workers back into their communities.
Mohammed T Sawaray is Deputy Town Chief of Camp Three, one of the Liberian border regions worst hit by the epidemic:
"The DPD came in at a time of need…they told us that we are all one despite the Ebola invasion. The relationship between us and the surrounding communities is more cordial than before the Ebola."
Watch the video below to find out more about the impact of the Ebola crisis and how the DPDs are working to re-unite communities.
Across the Mano River Region, DPDs have been successfully uniting Ebola-affected communities:
- The DPDs have supported the reconciliation and return of over 250 Ebola survivors to their communities
- Over 6,000 people have attended information-sharing events to understand the risks around Ebola and associated tensions
- Over 13,00 people have attended dialogue sessions between communities, health, government and security officials, and Ebola survivors and victims to listen to concerns, discuss solutions and ultimately reduce tensions.
- The DPDs have aired 23 radio sessions to help communities understand some of the tensions created as a result of the Ebola crisis.