Since March 2014, the Government of Guinea and its development partners have been leading the fight against the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the West African country.
In partnership with the French Cooperation (AFD), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are collaborating to support this campaign in several local authorities in the Haute Guinée region, as well asin the border region between Guinea and Mali. The region is targeted specifically for its under-developed sanitary infrastructure as well as its very active trade exchanges, which make it a high-risk area for the spread of the disease.
The ongoing joint UNCDF/UNDP "Local Development Programme in Guinea" was initially conceived to promote local economic development in six prefectures in Haute Guinée and a further three prefectures in Guinée Forestière, with a focus on women in particular. It also aims at strengthening the local authorities’ capacities for better delivery of basic services.
Since the breakout of the EVD, the Programme has been investing in the development of sanitary infrastructure in the Haute Guinée region, using a local development fund facility, to combat the further spread of the disease by improving access to water and other sanitary infrastructure. In the course of the project, 15 toilet blocs and a new health care centre will be constructed. In addition, two public bus stations and a market will be renovated to bring them to the required hygiene standards.
Local authorities and regional health authorities are playing a crucial role in making the campaign successful. They will be specifically responsible for mobilizing the local populations and spreading information on the disease and actions that people can take to improve their personal hygiene and reduce the risk of contracting EVD.
During the past month, hundreds of hygiene kits were distributed amongst the local population in Kourémalé in the presence of officials from both Guinea and Mali, including the Ministers of Health and high representatives of the national Ebola response units. The event was important also in determining a joint strategy between the countries in handling the spread of the EVD and ensuring that the strategy is put in place with the support of the local authorities, communities and other key actors from both countries.
Crucial activities that have been decided at this occasion include the strengthening of disease monitoring at the border posts, including the provision of hygiene products such as disinfectants and soap to 60 public institutions (offices, police stations, health care centres), closer collaboration between the sanitary districts on both sides of the border, the development of cross-border sanitary infrastructure, the creation of early warning mechanisms, health observatories and isolation centers and the coordination and harmonization of health messages and campaigns. The project is expected to run until March 2015 and benefit around 260,000 people in the local authorities of Kintinian, Doko and Norassoba.
Close coordination and adequate information exchange between the countries is seen as a core determinant of the effectiveness of the Ebola response and a single coordination unit is to be set up to ensure a coherent execution of the planned activities.