Rivercess County is expected to get a boost from a local partner, FACE Africa, in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) that has gripped the country since March.
FACE Africa has been operating in Liberia for the last 5 years, providing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to remote, rural communities, more specifically in Rivercess County, one of the poorest and most marginalized counties in the country.
When the EVD outbreak intensified here in July, FACE Africa temporarily suspended its WASH operations and redirected all efforts and resources towards Ebola Response in Rivercess, a county of approximately 71,000 people located in the southeastern region of Liberia.
Working in partnership with the Rivercess County Health Team, the organization with its extensive local knowledge and deep-rooted community trust, began working since July on social mobilization and prevention and awareness programs, distributing hygiene kits in several dozen communities, and held public engagement activities to counter damaging rumor, fear and misunderstanding about the virus.
FACE Africa recently received a $147,000 USD grant from the Robert Bosch Foundation in Germany towards its Ebola Response in Rivercess. The organization plans to use the grant to scale up its current efforts and continue community outreach and Ebola prevention campaigns to reach more communities and prevent further spread of the virus in the county.
With the grant, FACE Africa will also provide administrative and logistical support to the Rivercess County Health Team, train local volunteers as contact tracers and resume delivery of essential WASH services to those who need it most.
Since the beginning of the EVD outbreak, much of the international and Government’s attention towards containing the spread of the disease has focused mainly on Monrovia and other large cities, neglecting the country’s rural and remote regions. For several weeks now, countless reports have shown that the number of EVD cases has dropped in Monrovia and other cities, with most Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) reporting empty beds.
However, new outbreaks have emerged in rural areas, including the town of Jenewonde, Grand Cape Mount County and KayahTown, Rivercess where 10 deaths occurred in just the week of November 3rd.
“FACE Africa’s initial response efforts in Rivercess were successful in prevention and infection control, but we now have to aggressively scale up our response to prepare the county for a possible worst-case scenario,” said Ms. Saran Kaba Jones, FACE Africa’s Founder and CEO. FACE Africa’s Ebola Response campaign will target all 8 districts in Rivercess and plan to directly reach at least 25,000 residents in Rivercess (roughly 3,000 households) with awareness and prevention messages.
The group will also train 400-500 volunteers from various community groups (women, youth, traditional, faith- based) who will go door-to-door in their own communities as well as in neighboring towns to disseminate anti-Ebola messages.
“We are grateful to our partner the Robert Bosch Foundation for their support to FACE Africa, the people of Rivercess and to Liberia,” says Mr. Emmett Wilson, FACE Africa’s Program Manager. “For Ebola to be contained and eradicated, we need such partnerships and support and we hope to use this grant to not only fight the current crisis but to also put systems in place that will prepare these communities to battle future crises.”