Since 2014 Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been stricken with the deadly Ebola virus. According to the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO), the virus has affected over 20,000 and killed nearly 8,000 people. The virus is expected to continue at epidemic proportions until the end of this year.
The outbreak first began in Guinea, and Guinea continues to be one of the most affected countries. Due to poor-to-non-existent public health infrastructure throughout the country, especially in rural areas, combating the virus has been an impossible task made worse by fear and distrust of the government and outsiders in local communities.
Ebola continues to wreak havoc in West Africa. Despite its disappearance from the nightly news in the U.S., Ebola is still a threat, though not to Americans. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have taken drastic measures to curtail Ebola’s spread, including closing schools, imposing curfews, and even placing a moratorium on religious gatherings. Although these measures have resulted in lower transmission rates in the capital cities, rural areas still remain at risk.
This is of particular concern for us at Grassroots International because globally, and in West Africa, much of the work we fund to advance the human rights to land, water and food (i.e. resource rights) occurs in rural settings. Under normal circumstances, our partners are advocating for rights to culturally appropriate agriculture that’s ecologically sound (agroecology), as well as access to land and water to feed their communities.
Ebola poses not only a public health crisis, but also a potential food crisis if farmers become infected or succumb to the disease. It would mean farm land will remain fallow during planting season or crops unpicked during the harvest. That’s why Grassroots International has launched an urgent appeal for community-led community health education to reduce transmission rates. Please join us in supporting rural efforts, in collaboration with the Guinean Women for Food Sovereignty, to organize community health education and distribute chlorine-based sanitation kits.