Relevance's VSLA group has helped her and her community get through the Ebola outbreak

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The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was by far the largest – and deadliest – ever. Nearly 11,000 people are reported to have died – with around 25,000 confirmed or suspected cases.

Since the outbreak began CARE has been working with vulnerable and affected communities to help contain the spread of Ebola. CARE's contribution to awareness-raising and prevention has helped to make a difference: as of May 2015 the number of new cases is slowing, and the World Health Organisation has stated that the Ebola response should now begin to focus on recovery.

However, it's not just the people infected who have suffered – the Ebola crisis has brought devastation to whole families and communities. The Ebola outbreak made normal life impossible – disrupting work, livelihoods, travel, and selling and buying goods at markets; closing down schools; and putting huge strain on essential services, particularly health care.

CARE has reached over 443,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire with social mobilisation and food security support, including:

  • distributing essential hygiene kits – including wash bucket, gloves, bleach, soap and hand sanitiser – to help families protect themselves against the disease
  • training community volunteers to help stop the spread of the virus in their communities
  • raising awareness through door-to-door messages, posters and radio ads, about how to prevent the spread of Ebola – how to identify signs and symptoms, how to report potential cases, where to go for treatment, and proper hygiene to reduce the risk of infection
  • supporting vulnerable farming groups by providing seeds and tools, with a specific focus on women who have limited livelihood options.

Recovery and rebuilding

We are now shifting the focus of our Ebola response to recovery by helping people rebuild livelihoods. Our work in Liberia and Sierra Leone before the Ebola outbreak already had a strong focus on building resilience at local community level, including strengthening the ability of communities to respond to the crisis. We will be drawing on our strong relationships at local levels to help the most vulnerable people rebuild their livelihoods and communities.

[page updated May 2015]