Local Organizations Key to Ebola Recovery

Liberia is a developing country facing a serious public health crisis and economic injustice brought on by the Ebola crisis.As a grassroots organization working in Liberia, we face many challenges: transportation; poor communications systems; and limited funding to scale successful programs to new communities. The need for strong donor support to empower local grassroots organizations working to fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa is truly overwhelming. Although currently there is a large international NGOs presence and donor support in Liberia, their numbers will quickly decrease as the Ebola epidemic starts to improve. Unfortunately, the lasting impact of Ebola will continue long after these international aid workers leave the country. Psychosocial support, stigmatization of Ebola survivors, and the economic repercussions of Ebola on the country will become an increasingly serious challenge. This is where long-term support and the role of local organizations for recovery is critical.
Proactive intervention and strategies are needed to ensure wider development outcomes in postwar Liberia and other affected countries. To do this, donor support must focus on vulnerable and underprivileged groups, especially women, youth, and the disabled at the local level. Donor support to local organizations needs to center around three critical areas:
Social protection projects help provide a safe environment for Ebola survivors and can be a way of introducing livelihood sustainability for survivors and their families.
Psychosocial support is very important here in West Point psychosocial support to Ebola survivors in the community and economic empowerment program is our main areas of work in providing support and promoting women rights, the role that we play in economic and skills empowerment to women is vital to the improvement of their income generating activities.
Increasing the space for grassroot organizations at the policy level is key to promoting social development for women, children, and people with disabilities.
The lack of long-term donors’ support is a critical problem across Africa. While short-term emergency response is relatively simple, only long term support will yield real results. In the context of the Ebola response, donors should focus on:
Building a strong alliance with local community organizations to include the participation of women and other underrepresented groups including the voices of those directly affected by the Ebola virus.
Creating specific policies aimed at influencing the Liberian Government’s position on supporting grassroots organizations so that decisionmaking can respond appropriately at the local and national level.
As we look to not just eliminate Ebola in Liberia, but to help the country fully recover from this crisis, the active involvement and participation of grassroots organizations is essential.

Nelly Cooper

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