Christian Aid: Hunger Making Spread of Ebola Worse In Africa

A UN agency is warning that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could cause a major food shortage as farmers in Liberia and other hard-hit nations stay away from their fields (EPA)
A UN agency is warning that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could cause a major food shortage as farmers in Liberia and other hard-hit nations stay away from their fields (EPA)

The spread of Ebola is being made worse by endemic poverty and hunger in parts of Africa, Christian Aid has warned.

In Sierra Leone, families without access to enough food and water are being forced to leave their homes, which risks undermining measures put in place to halt the spread of the virus.

“Households, neighbourhoods and even entire districts have been isolated in Sierra Leone. To break the chain of transmission, you have to limit people’s movements, but it is counter-productive to restrict their movement without addressing their basic needs,” said Adrian Ouvry, Christian Aid’s humanitarian programmes manager.

“Endemic poverty, increased food prices and limited support to affected communities are forcing people to leave quarantined homes to fend for their families – increasing the chances of transmitting the virus to others.”

Ouvry added that “day-to-day survival” means parents have to risk either being exposed to the virus or seeing their children go hungry.

“Governments and aid agencies must recognise that quarantine will only be effective if those who are isolated are guaranteed a sufficient and constant supply of nutritious food and clean water. Otherwise, the issue of hunger and food security will undermine the success of quarantine measures,” he said.

Emergency food assistance is now being provided by the World Food Programme, with rations allotted to vulnerable families, but Christian Aid says more is needed.

More than 4,500 people in West Africa have died from Ebola so far, and the number is growing every day. Theresa Bagrey, Christian Aid’s senior programme officer for community health, told Christian Today that cases in Freetown, where she is based, are consistently rising.

“There were 28 new cases just yesterday,” she said. “It’s increasing every day in Freetown, because it’s very difficult to stop the transmission.”

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SOURCE: Christian Today
Carey Lodge

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