Friday, December 05, 2014

The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Ebola Crisis

Map: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
There are at least 65 non-governmental organizations are providing some sort of direct or indirect assistance in the fight to control the Ebola outbreak  in West Africa. Some of the names on the list compiled by US Agency for International Development (USAID) are familar and others are not as familiar  Among those agencies and NGOs I recognized are CARE, Doctors Without Borders, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Unicef, World Food Programme, Catholic Relief Services, Episcopal Relief and Development, Save the Children and World Vision. And these are just the organizations with some connection to the US. There are probably many NGOss from Europe, Japan, Canada and other areas assisting with the crisis.

So with so many organizations involved in addressing the crisis, how do you prevent duplication of efforts?  Is there a mechanism for these organizations to work together? I'm sure many of these organizations find a way to work together and with government agencies. Would you believe the U.S. State Department has an NGO handbook?  Chapter 6 addresses cooperative efforts. "Community needs are too numerous and society’s problems are too complex. "Your NGO needs to work with other NGOs and your government to accomplish your goals...Through partnerships with other NGOs, and the public sector, you gain access to new resources, including funding and in-kind support as well as information, expertise and skills."

The NGOs working directly in the countries affected by Ebola face some challenges, according to Sam Worthington, President and CEO of InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations. "The current Ebola outbreak...presents a unique situation for international NGOs. It began in Lofa County in northern Liberia, in which most of the health infrastructure was destroyed during the country’s recent civil war,"  Worthington said in an interview with  The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. 

CARE's project includes the distribution of hundreds of #Ebola posters in Sierra Leone as part of  its effort to work  health officials in West Africa to help educate the public about the disease. (See a sample of the poster below). "Experts agree—to #EndEbola everywhere requires stopping it in West Africa. CARE is expanding lifesaving hygiene programs in Sierra Leone and Liberia that are helping stop the transmission of this deadly virus. Prevention is the best cure," said the humanitarian organization.

"As relief and recovery efforts evolve, these organizations tailor their work to meet the changing needs of people and communities," said USAID. "Monetary donations enable responding organizations to react with speed and specificity in critical sectors now and as communities recover. Even a small donation can have great impact. Monetary donations save lives and money." To support any of the organizations working in West Africa, please visit USAID site for links to each of the 65 NGOs. .

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