The scale of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa has decreased considerably since its peak in 2014. In Sierra Leone, the number of new cases dropped to a total of eighteen confirmed cases per weekat the beginning of May – from almost four hundred in November 2015.As the most-affected West African countries move closer to zero cases of Ebola, their leaders have called for a plan for long-term regional reconstruction; stressing, in particular that the “most important long-term response to Ebola… rests in plans and strategies for economic recovery" .
With an eye on post-EVD recovery, BRAC – Sierra Leone – in partnership with Oxfam UK – implemented an extensive assessment of the effects of EVD on select districts in Sierra Leone. The objective of the Assessment of The Impact of EVD in Five Districts in Sierra Leone was to examine the effects of the EVD outbreakfor the purposes of designing and implementing recovery-focusedinterventions in a variety of sectors in Sierra Leone.It used a quasi-experimental design that consisted of a two-pronged mixed methodology that consisted of household questionnaires and community-based focus group discussions (FGDs). Surveys were used to quantitatively establish the types, characteristics, and magnitude of the effects of EVD, while FGDs were used to identify explanatory variables related to these effects. Eight communities – Koinadugu, Bombali, Port Loko, Western Urban, and Western Rural Districts – were purposefully chosen, stratifying in each for urban and rural classifications and those areas that were considered to bemore- and less-affected by EVD.Although quantitative data generated by the assessment cannot strictly speaking be said to be statistically representative, the sample of household 793 surveys does yield important quantitative insights into the impacts of EVD in Sierra Leone. The assessment also captured qualitative data through 219 FGDs, with 1,589 participants from the following groups: health workers, adolescent girls, community leaders, parents, market women and middlemen, petty traders, and farmers.
This assessment found that the effects of the EVD outbreak in Sierra Leone were profound and widespread – both for those individuals, households, and communities directly affected by the virus, as well as for those indirectly affected by school closures, restrictions on movement and gatherings, reduced provision of health services, etc. Of the households surveyed, 11.3 per cent reported an EVD case and 20.4 per cent had been part of a quarantine area. Although EVD had significantly declined since its peak last year, it must be emphasized that the impact of the EVD outbreak is persistent and ongoing; and may continue for years, or even decades to come, if appropriate measures are not taken by the Government of Sierra Leone and its national and international partners.