Oxfam Begins Its Response To Ebola Outbreak In Democratic Republic Of Congo
Oxfam has embarked on its emergency response to the Ebola outbreak in the Equateur province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The aid agency has begun to distribute desperately needed food to the thousands of individuals in the middle of the crisis. Oxfam is making food items available to roughly 4,500 people. The aid agency began its operation in Mbandaka which is the provincial capital of Equateur and intends to widen the relief effort to rural communities as well.
Stopping the virus from spreading
Oxfam is also working hard to ensure that communities have access to clean water and that they are aware of how to protect themselves from the Ebola virus and stop it spreading. The outbreak of the disease has meant that trade between rural areas has been disrupted. Mbandaka in particular has been hit badly because many people depend on this trade route for their food and other essentials.
Delivering assistance to people who need it
Households that find they have been in contact with someone who has contracted Ebola are forced to rely on assistance because they have been asked to remain indoors for three weeks making it impossible for them to obtain food. Oxfam’s DRC Country Director Jose Barahona says it is critical that these people receive the food they need because it ensures other people remain protected. Without assistance these people will have to go to market and could potentially infect others.
Learning from previous outbreaks
Mr Barahona adds that the response is making use of everything that was learned during the West African Ebola outbreak. As a result, Oxfam is working with communities, trying to understand their fears and superstitions and working to overcome them. In West Africa the impact of the Ebola epidemic on the economy and people’s ability to earn a living was significant. People were not allowed to move freely which meant they were unable to cultivate their fields and as a result food price inflation was drastic.
Post outbreak plan needed
Mr Barahona says that there needs to be a plan in place for what happens after the outbreak subsides and this includes making sure people are able to earn a living and have access to clean water and sanitation. Ebola is not the only crisis affecting millions of people living in the DRC. Fortunately, donors have opened their wallets and should make good on their pledges. There are a few million people in the DRC who are affected by a variety of humanitarian crises and have not received any aid whatsoever.
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