$1.9 million post-Ebola project to re-skill burial team workers kick starts
Freetown, Tuesday 10 August 2015: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have kick-started a 12-months post-Ebola project for 800 Ebola burial team and infection control and prevention volunteers who worked with the Sierra Leone Red Cross. The project seeks to rehabilitate and reintegrate Safe and Dignified Burial (SDB) team workers into their communities and help them with psychosocial counselling, vocational and skills training to enable them access economic and livelihood opportunities.
The Reintegration of Sierra Leone Red Cross Volunteers project, to the tune of USD 1.975.639, will initially target about 800 Red Cross frontline responders of the more than 2,300 active volunteer. These Red Cross Safe and Dignified Burial team volunteers come from myriad of backgrounds and geographic areas, including students and unemployed youths. They were at the forefront in the Ebola response and were instrumental in halting the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone, but suffered great psychological stress and stigma from their work. As the Ebola response winds down and hazard pay draws to a close, some of them would be without jobs, and those of school-going age would return to school.
Moulaye Camara, the Head of Delegation for IFRC in Sierra Leone says the project will mainly target Kono and Kenema districts, adding: “This is a good starting point of a long-term partnership between IFRC and UNDP, with the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) which will benefit the Safe and Dignified Burial Teams, that will help us to reintegrate them in their communities after the good work they did for the past year.”
UNDP Country Director, Sudipto Mukerjee says “This is definitely a very good start. I’m delighted to be part of this historic moment for two reasons: one, the coming together of two very important bodies who have been involved in Ebola Response, and also working together in Ebola Recovery; and two, because this is the first such agreement between the two organizations. Communities need to embrace these young people as heroes of the society.” Mr. Mukerjee said.
Mr. Mukerjee also noted that the project is the first Ebola recovery initiative that UNDP, IFRC and Sierra Leone Red Cross will undertake. Reintegrating Safe and Dignified Burial team members signals the end stages of the epidemic, it is important that agencies start working with communities most affected by the epidemic.
As part of the Ebola response, IFRC was given the lead coordination role for Safe and Dignified Burials (SDB) at the Ebola Response Conference in Accra, convened in October 2014 by the UN. IFRC, together with Sierra Leone Red Cross and its network of branches and these 800 dedicated volunteers undertook this major role in conducting safe and dignified burials and infection prevention and control. They have been responsible for conducting approximately 50% of the safe and dignified burials in Sierra Leone under the emergency Ebola response.
UNDP was tasked by the UN Secretary-General to lead the UN’s crisis recovery work in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, whilst continuing to support the country’s efforts to get to zero Ebola cases, UNDP helped the government develop the country’s National Ebola Recovery Strategy.
UNDP’s own recovery action plan, titled ‘Restoring Livelihoods and Fostering Economic Recovery’ spans 18 months, and supports the country’s recovery efforts with a focus in helping rebuild the livelihoods of those most affected, strengthen the government’s capacity to restore essential services and to ensure a rapid return to a sustainable development path, while preserving and promoting peace, stability and social cohesion.
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