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Last updated: March 2015
West Africa: Primarily Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak is unprecedented in scale and geographic reach with a higher caseload than all other Ebola crises combined. The outbreak, which began in March 2014, has affected six countries in West Africa, with 99.7% of cases occurring in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. The outbreak has the potential to have immediate and longer-term social, economic, development and security consequences in the region.
(Source: UNMEER, WHO)
The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak started in Guinea in March 2014. On 8 August, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Since that time, the outbreak spread to the neighbouring countries of Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Cases were also identified in Nigeria, Mali and Senegal but as a result of effective surveillance, isolation and containment measures and political and community engagement, all three countries have been declared Ebola-free (passing two consecutive quarantine periods or 42 days without any new cases) – Nigeria and Senegal since late October and Mali since mid-January. To prevent the outbreak from further spreading to neighbouring countries, IFRC and other NGO and UN agencies including UNICEF have been supporting the development of emergency plans of action and preparedness activities in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo.
On 31 July, the World Health Organization together with the governments of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia launched an initial appeal and Ebola Virus Disease response plan for US $100 million for the period of July through December 2014 as part of an intensified international, regional and national campaign to bring the outbreak under control. On 28 August, WHO issued a “roadmap” with the intent to scale up the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. By September the first-ever UN emergency health mission, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), was set up to respond to immediate needs and to coordinate the response. To better reflect the evolving nature of the crisis, the appeal was revised and UN agencies jointly launched an appeal for $1.5bn for the first six month period, October 2014 to March 2015. As of December 17, $1.2 billion had been directly raised against this appeal. This leaves a funding gap of $300 million. If the outbreak continues at its present rate, the UN estimates that a further $1.5 billion will be needed for the period April to September 2015. An Ebola Recovery Assessment is currently underway in the three most affected countries. The aim of the Assessment is, together with governments, to assess needs in critical areas that will contribute to early and medium-term economic and social recovery in the post-Ebola era. The Assessment report will be presented during the spring meetings of the World Bank.
(Source: UNOCHA: Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak: Overview of Needs and Requirements, WHO)
According to UNOCHA’s Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak: Overview of Needs and Requirements published in September 2014, an estimated 22.34 million people live in areas within Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where active EVD transmission had been reported, with an estimated 4.29 million people living in areas where twenty of more fatalities have been reported. An estimated 8.5 million children and youth under 20 years old are living in areas affected by Ebola. Of them, 2.5 million are under the age of five.
A total of 23,969 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD have been reported as of March 3, 2015 (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States). There have been 9,807 reported deaths. For the first time since the week of 26 May 2014, Liberia reported no new confirmed cases the week of March 3rd. Transmission remains widespread in Sierra Leone and new cases have been reported in Guinea so while a great deal of progress is being made in stemming he spread of the disease, it is important that we all remain vigilant.
The total number of confirmed and probable cases is similar in males and females. Compared with children (people aged 14 years and under), people aged 15 to 44 are approximately three times more likely to be affected. People aged 45 and over are nearly four times more likely to be affected than children. People aged 45 and over (125 reported cases per 100 000 population) are almost four times more likely to be affected than are children.
(Source: WHO Ebola Response Situation report 4 March 2015)
The Ebola outbreak has had a profound effect on the lives of children across the affected countries. In the Ebola crisis, many children are exposed to extremely stressful and potentially traumatic experiences. With an estimated 8.5 million children and youth under 20 years old, 2.5 of whom are under the age of five, living in areas affected by Ebola, children are not only facing the risk of exposure to EVD but are also being significantly affected in numerous other ways. Some 16,600 children are registered as having lost one or both parents, or their primary caregivers to Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Others have suffered stigma and discrimination at the community level because of their family’s or their own illness and have lost friends and routine activities so important to the healthy development of a child.
Before the Ebola outbreak, the affected countries had some of the lowest education indicators globally - just 58% of children attended primary school in Guinea; 74% in Sierra Leone; and 34% in Liberia (Childinfo 2014.). The impact of prolonged school closures in a region with some of the lowest education indicators in the world is dire and the outbreak has negative consequences on the availability of teachers, the safety of school premises, vulnerability of girls and women and, in the longer term, the ability of affected countries to accelerate economic and social development. In addition, schools in all three countries had limited safe water and sanitation prior to the crisis, a critical factor given the key role of hand-washing with in preventing transmission.
During the more than six months when schools remained closed, at least 5 million children missed out on learning opportunities. While children remain out of school, they are more exposed to other kinds of risks for their health and well-being.
The outbreak has had a negative impact on the availability of teachers, the quality of teaching and learning and on the safety of school premises (especially for those being used as isolation or treatment centres). Teachers will also return to work having experienced loss, grief and difficult situations, and will now be expected to support and guide the children in their classes in a sensitive, structured and holistic way. Schooling with properly equipped teachers can provide these affected children with a sense of normalcy, hope and stability, reduce fear and stigma and help to mitigate the psycho-social impact of the crisis.
(Source: Childinfo 2014, Global Education Cluster, UNICEF)
The following education actors are currently providing an education response to the crisis:
After more than six months of closure, schools are reopening across the region. Schools opened in Guinean in January, in Liberia schools are in the process of reopening and the Sierra Leoneoan government is set to see schools open at the end of March. UNICEF, Save the Children and education partners are working with local governments to ensure when school reopen, they are safe and protective spaces for learning. The first step has been to develop a set of minimum requirements for the safe reopening, the Safe Schools Protocols. Ministries of Education and Health together with partners in each of the three affected countries have developed a country-specific set of protocols which include the following:
(Source: Childinfo 2014, Global Education Cluster, UNICEF)
The following key INEE resources in English and French can be used to support EiE efforts in Ebola-affected countries:
Lessons from Emergencies: Education and Ebola (Up For School 10 Dec 2015)
Ebola, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, education disruption
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