Start Fund supports rapid response to Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone
Four projects are now underway with funding from the Start Fund to respond to the recent outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone. Ebola was first reported in Sierra Leone on 20 June, and in only five days this had increased to 21 confirmed cases and 3 confirmed deaths. NGOs operating in Sierra Leone recognised that a fast and coordinated containment operation would be needed to stem the spread of the disease.
An alert was raised by the International Rescue Committee on June 25 calling for a Start Fund activation to fill a critical immediate gap in funding. The alert note described how very limited funding had been allocated so far, with donors being unable to keep up with the rapidly changing situation. It called for urgent support for contact tracing and social mobilisation in Sierra Leone.
The Start Fund was able to demonstrate is speed and agility by selecting projects to begin implementing on Saturday 28 June. After the Allocation Committee decided to activate the Fund for an envelope of £350,000, a project selection process took place once again at the local level. This time decision making occurred even closer to the affected community, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Four colleagues were convened on Friday and met on Saturday morning to assess the 10 proposals that had been submitted. As before, a parallel meeting took place in the UK for control purposes, though the final decision lay with the Freetown committee.
The test strengthened the Start Network belief that more effective decision making can take place locally, with the committee choosing a portfolio of contextually appropriate projects, taking into account the locations where Ebola cases had already been confirmed, and the urgent need to respond to the growing fear and demand for communication in the capital city. The committee, made up of Freetown-based representatives from ActionAid, Christian Aid, International Rescue Committee and CAFOD, chose four projects from the ten with a total budget of £281,215.
The successful projects will be implemented by Save the Children, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide and ActionAid, and will provide communication and health worker support in Freetown and Kailahun, Kenema, Bo and Kono districts. Collectively the projects will aim reach 885,284 beneficiaries in 45 days.