Friday, August 19, 2016
Beyond the Disease: How the Ebola Epidemic Affected the Politics and Stability of the Mano River Basin
In late 2013, the Ebola virus was diagnosed in the forest region of Guinea. By mid-2014, it had spread alarmingly in the countries of the Mano River Basin – Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. By the time it was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) in August 2014, at least 1 711 people were infected and 932 people had died from the virus.1 The Ebola virus was an alien phenomenon among both healthcare workers and ordinary people, and the affected countries lacked the capacity to respond effectively. The lack of proper response mechanisms at the beginning of the outbreak enabled the virus to spread rapidly, with a 90% fatality rate among the population, leaving citizens – mostly those in densely populated slum communities – in despair and desperation. What became further at risk was the stability of the three countries, two of which – Liberia and Sierra Leone – were still recovering from civil conflicts that had ended a decade earlier. While the crisis was largely health-based, it gravely affected political and security situations, leading observers to predict collapse, violence and a possible return to war. Read more..