Fighting Ebola in Africa

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As the number of people affected by the Ebola virus continues to rise, World Food Programme (WFP) – in coordination with the health response in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, is scaling up its emergency operation to provide food assistance to more than 1 million people.

The United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS), managed by WFP, has opened a new air corridor between Dakar, Accra, Freetown, Monrovia and Conakry to facilitate the rapid deployment of humanitarian staff to the field.

UNHAS is using two aircraft and one helicopter to provide the air service for the humanitarian community.

SOUNDBITE (French), Dr, Ousmane Faye, Pasteur Institute of Dakar:
“This corridor is important for us, as it will allow us to have enough stock of laboratory products for the tests at the laboratory. We really had a problem. Whenever we ran out of products we had to order them all the way from France, although we have stocks in Dakar. Now with this corridor, we have the guaranty to have enough laboratory products available at all times.”

As of 30 September, WFP has provided 5,971 metric tons of food assistance to 430,000 people in the three countries in response to the Ebola outbreak, since April 2014. Food distributions are ongoing in both urban and rural areas, often house-to-house, one family at a time.

WFP has also contracted a ship for the Ebola response. It is currently in Cotonou, Benin, loading 7,000 metric tons of rice to be transported to Monrovia and Freetown.

SOUNDBITE (English) Denise Brown, WFP Regional Director:
“We are shifting our gears at the same time trying to keep up with the spread of the virus and it is a huge challenge for us, we are doing a lot, both in delivering food, logistic support, planes, helicopters, ships, building treatment centres, and I said to health partners tell us what more we can do, how we can do better to help you”

The mVAM (mobile Vulnerability Assessment Mapping) technology is being used to track the impact of the crisis on food security. In Sierra Leone, data collection via SMS has been completed for a total sample of 800 households. In Guinea and Liberia, WFP is preparing data collection through interactive voice response.

SOUNDBITE (English), Martin Penner, WFP spokesperson:
“Ebola is effecting Liberia in a number of ways, and for many people what it boils down to, is the fact that they just can’t get the food they need, that’s why the World Food Programme is organizing food distributions, especially in places where the virus is spreading rapidly, because one thing we want to do above all and that is make sure that this health emergency does not become a food emergency.”

Some 155 metric tons, worth US$ 1.4 million, of protective gear, emergency health kits and equipment to the region were dispatched from the UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD),

To date, WFP has received only 33 percent (US$ 42.6 million) of the US$ 126.9 million required for its global Ebola emergency operations until February 2015. This slow response has led WFP to borrow internal funds to provide urgent logistical support to humanitarian partners.

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