Congo-Kinshasa: Ebola Listening Projects Take Cues coming from Community to Improve Response

Photo: Alain Coulibaly/Monusco

An Ebola tratment centre at a hospital in Beni inside DR Congo’s North Kivu province.

Dakar — Working in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak in 2015, researcher Katherina Thomas noticed in which while experts in addition to aid workers had lots to say, no one was listening to ordinary people affected.

She in addition to a team set about interviewing patients in addition to community members about their experiences, creating an oral history archive which she believes could help responders struggling to gain the trust of Ebola-hit communities in Congo today.

Ebola has been spreading in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since August inside entire world’s second biggest outbreak, which has killed 1,354 people in addition to surpassed 2,000 cases This specific week, according to government figures.

Aid workers have said they are struggling to contain the outbreak because of community resistance, with people refusing vaccines, concealing symptoms in addition to attacking treatment centres.

“People are asking why community members don’t trust the responders, nevertheless I think we should be asking, why aren’t we trusting them?” said Thomas, currently a writer-in-residence at the Broad Institute of MIT in addition to Harvard inside United States.

“They don’t have a seat at the table, nevertheless their voices in addition to insights are so crucial,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Community resistance was also a problem during the West Africa outbreak, which hit Guinea, Liberia in addition to Sierra Leone, in addition to the reasons were sometimes surprising, said Thomas.

She in addition to her colleagues interviewed the young men who attacked an Ebola quarantine centre in Liberia in 2014 in addition to found they believed they were saving their community, she said.

Although the context is actually different in eastern Congo, an active conflict zone, Thomas said some of the insights are relevant in addition to she hopes to make the archive available for public use.

The Red Cross has been leading efforts to collect community feedback during the current outbreak with over 700 volunteers doing interviews by going door-to-door.

By analysing which comments are most frequent in addition to where, they have been able to see how perceptions of Ebola are changing in addition to what concerns need to be addressed, said Ombretta Baggio, senior advisor for community engagement at the International Federation of Red Cross in addition to Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“If you start coming from where they are, they listen to you differently,” Baggio said of the people affected.

Right currently, for example, there is actually a rumour going around in which in treatment centres patients are given a pill to make them die, she said.

The West Africa outbreak reached a turning point when communities themselves became engaged in stamping out the disease, rather than just aid workers, she said.

“I think sharing those lessons learned – not by responders nevertheless by communities – might be so powerful,” said Baggio.

(Reporting by Nellie Peyton, Editing by Claire Cozens. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is actually the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, in addition to covers humanitarian news, women’s in addition to LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, in addition to climate change. Visit

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Congo-Kinshasa: Ebola Listening Projects Take Cues coming from Community to Improve Response

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