Effective Community Engagement Helped Contain Epidemic, Protect Children and Families, says Aid Agency

Freetown, Sierra Leone (July 30, 2015)—Effective community engagement played a critical role in containing the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone, says World Vision, reflecting on lessons learned during the year-long battle against the virus.

“We are extremely proud of our community partners—parents, teachers, paramount chiefs, faith leaders and government officials—in the Bo, Bonthe, Pujehun and Kono districts. Together, we have successfully helped to achieve and maintain zero new cases of Ebola in these districts for months now,” says Leslie Scott, World Vision Sierra Leone National Director.

Scott says World Vision mobilized its extensive networks—built over 20 years of service in Sierra Leone—early in the outbreak.

“At first, rumors were rife and people didn’t know what or who to believe. Such misinformation and fear was deadly. I remember seeing corpses abandoned in the streets of Freetown. Even the global experts weren’t sure how to respond at first,” Scott said. “However, people heeded those who had their trust and respect. We trained community leaders in Ebola-prevention information and helped equip them with the resources they needed to save lives.”

The result: none of the 58,000 children, or their immediate families, who are directly supported through World Vision’s 25 area development programs in Bo, Bonthe, Kono and Pujehun contracted Ebola.

“We are winning the war on Ebola, but it’s not over yet,” says Scott. “Such community engagement and practical support is urgently needed not only to beat Ebola across the rest of Sierra Leone, but to transform our national systems and structures if we are to avert such a devastating crisis again.”

On the one-year anniversary of the government’s Ebola emergency declaration in Sierra Leone, World Vision is urging the government to invest in its citizen’s equitable health, education, social protection and livelihoods during the Ebola recovery phase by:

  • Involving ordinary citizens in development planning, coordination and decision-making processes to improve service delivery in health, education and environment sectors.
  • Developing a framework to ensure citizens’ participation in health, education, child protection and livelihood implementation for improved service delivery and accountability.
  • Developing a scheme to ensure citizens directly affected by Ebola are protected and cared for, especially orphaned children, providing them with free education, health, shelter and livelihood needs.
  • Ensuring transparent and mutual accountability for quality, accessible and equitable service delivery in education, health and environmental sectors.


Notes to Editor:

Working in close collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone, World Vision reached an estimated 1.56 million people through its Ebola Emergency Response. Highlighted activities include:


  • 5.4 million personal protective equipment items (suits, gloves, face masks, goggles, etc.) procured, delivered to hospitals, primary healthcare units
  • 1,020 health care professionals, 950 community health workers trained in infection prevention and control
  • 7,000 hygiene kits distributed to 200 schools
  • 29, 201 safe and dignified burials conducted by 800 trained burial workers, in partnership with CRS and CAFOD


  • 1,000 teachers trained in psychosocial first aid for children, using training manual co-produced by the Ministry of Science, Education and Technology, World Vision, UNICEF, and other NGOs
  • 30,000 radios distributed to children to support broadcast education during nine-month school closure
  • 1,955 schools cleaned by 19,550 volunteers, organized by World Vision in partnership with World Food Program (360 metric tons of food provided to volunteers and their families)

Child Protection and Advocacy

  • 1,100 children surveyed for the Children’s Ebola Recovery Assessment, published in partnership with Plan International and Save the Children
  • 3,000 members of local Mothers’ Clubs and Community Welfare Committees trained in child protection legislation, parenting and psychosocial first aid skills
  • 500 citizens mobilized to advocate for improved health services during Global Week of Action, resulting in policy paper

Livelihoods/Food Security

  • 8,861 rural families (approx. 44,304 people) supplied with 306 metric tons of food
  • $500,000 banked by 550 Savings Groups (women and men) trained by World Vision
  • 500 farmer provided with seeds, tools, training in post-harvest management
  • 50 women’s groups equipped in vegetable production; 450 acres cultivated

Faith Leader Engagement

  • 460 ministers and imams, 150 paramount chiefs trained on Ebola prevention (See “Religion and Ebola: learning from experience”, The Lancet, July 2015)


  • 302 vehicles, including ambulances and burial team trucks, maintained and serviced
  • 12 inter-agency Ebola-response Command and Control Centres managed across the country

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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.


  • Efforts by faith leaders, teachers, parents and government helped inform citizens about risk factors for Ebola, dispel fear and stigma
  • World Vision provided help in health, education, logistics, child protection and livelihood sectors