International Alert recently launched its report titled Surviving Ebola: Public perceptions of governance and the outbreak responses in Liberia with events in Monrovia and London.
The study, which was conducted in December 2014 with support from the Swedish government, analyses citizen–state relationships and the Liberian public’s perception of their government’s handling of the Ebola crisis.
In Monrovia, the launch on 27 August was hosted in collaboration with the African Union Liaison Office in Liberia and was presided over by H.E Harrison Oluwatoyin Solaja, Ambassador/Special Representative of the African Union Chairperson to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The event was attended by dignitaries from the diplomatic corps, including the European Union, and representatives of both local and international non-governmental organisations. Representatives from two focus groups consulted during the research (Saint Paul Bridge and West Point) were also present and shared their experiences during the peak of the crisis.
A major recommendation that emerged from the Monrovia launch was the need for a comparative analysis of the three countries affected by Ebola: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, particularly on the responses and governance strategies, so as to better understand how and why efforts to combat the epidemic succeeded in some countries more than others, and for cross-learning.
The UK launch of the report on 11 September was hosted in collaboration with the Africa Research Institute and was aimed at specific policy-makers and people or organisations with a particular interest in west Africa and the Ebola crisis. The author of the report, Ashoka Mkupo, presented the report’s findings and held an engaging Q&A session after.
During the Q&A session, questions covered the underlying reasons for public anger towards the government’s response to the epidemic, the role of traditional leaders in the campaign against Ebola, how to address the systemic issues of corruption and poor service delivery in Liberia, and whether there is a ‘never again’ mentality among the Liberian public. Concerns were also raised over the lack of supportive media coverage and representation of the crisis – in western media in particular, and the lack of psychosocial support and aid for victims. There was also praise and emphasis on the role played by community initiatives, particularly awareness campaigns that helped communities to be more assertive in their preventive efforts against the epidemic.
You can read the Surviving Ebola report here.