Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

Ebola takes toll on Sierra Leone

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Ebola takes toll on Sierra LeoneThe Ebola outbreak has disrupted economic and other activities in Sierra Leone, causing widespread dislocations.

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) sent a total of US$20,000 to provide food, educational materials for the prevention of the spread of the Ebola virus, as well as materials and equipment to provide adequate sanitation for persons who have been affected by the crisis.

“The Ebola scourge in Sierra Leone is affecting the economy of the state, communities, households and individual family members,” Samuel Conteh, coordinator of social ministries for the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone, told the BWA.

The outbreak, which began in March, occurred during the height of the farming season. Agriculture is roughly 58 percent of Sierra Leone’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“This is the time rice farmers plant their rice fields and plantation (cocoa, coffee, etc.). The outbreak has not only abruptly halted these farming activities, but has also claimed the lives of farmers,” Conteh said.

“Some survivors are either quarantined or can no longer frequent their farms or plantations thereby leaving the crops to perish, particularly in epicenters like Kenema, Kailahun and Bo, where the majority of the population depends on rice and plantation farming for their livelihood.”

Conteh indicated “that most of the Ebola deaths are in the age brackets of between 15 and 45 years old, which fall within the active labor force, thereby leaving a huge population (children and the aged) as dependents.”

As a result, there is food shortage and the price of basic food supplies has skyrocketed. There is urgent need for food, especially for Ebola survivors and orphans. Agricultural supplies for planting the next harvest are also a great need.

Ebola takes toll on Sierra LeoneThe mining sector, the fifth highest contributor to Sierra Leone’s GDP, has also been negatively affected. Large mining companies “have all scaled down their activities leading to mass redundancy of a massive work force. Government revenue from this sector has also gone down,” Conteh affirmed.

In other areas of the economy, people have been laid off or made redundant. Education is virtually crippled as schools are closed.

The health sector is also severely affected. Approximately 50 medical personnel have died, including three prominent doctors. According to Conteh, persons are fearful of visiting health facilities lest they are labeled as Ebola patients and, as a result, are dying of ailments other than Ebola. Pregnant and nursing mothers are not visiting clinics to receive necessary prenatal and postnatal care. Babies and young children are not receiving necessary immunizations to ward off other infectious diseases.

Church activities have been drastically reduced. “Church attendances are dwindling. Baptist activities are being slowed down, particularly in [the] epicenters. The traditional embracing and handshake among members after church service have disappeared,” declared Conteh.

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Baptist World Alliance®
© September 10, 2014

The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 253 conventions and unions in 130 countries and territories comprising 51 million baptized believers in 176,000 churches. For more than 100 years, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.