The start of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak at the end of December 2013 in Guinea led to more than 11,000 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia by mid-2015. The first cases of Ebola were confirmed in Liberia in March 2014 and led to more than 10,600 cases of Ebola in the country, and more than 4,700 deaths. The Ebola outbreak had an impact not just on health, but also livelihoods, education, food security and community relationships. Liberia YMCA responded to the emergency through a number of projects, reaching more than 45,000 people with information on Ebola through trained community volunteers or ‘peer educators’ and more than 7,400 people with food support.
In April 2015, Y Care International facilitated an evaluation to identify lessons learned from the response and areas for improvement for future emergency response. Overall more than 80 people were consulted in the evaluation process including staff from national and local branches of Liberia YMCA, project beneficiaries, peer educators and community stakeholders. This report provides an overview of Liberia YMCA’s Ebola outbreak emergency response projects, summarises the findings of the evaluation, and gives a set of key recommendations for future emergency response, both for Liberia YMCA – relevant also for other local/national organisations – and the wider YMCA Movement.
The key recommendations are as follows:
Liberia YMCA should maintain and build on the relationships established and/or strengthened with community leadership and stakeholders throughout the Ebola outbreak emergency response. All YMCAs should ensure they coordinate directly with local communities and leaders, other stakeholders and NGOs
– including any relevant working groups or taskforces.
Efforts to share information more effectively between YMCA staff working on different projects should be increased, both for on-going development projects and future emergency response.
Efforts should also be made to improve coordination and communication between Regional Alliances of YMCAs, WAY and other international YMCA partners.
Confirmation of funds available for YMCA emergency response projects should be made much quicker in future emergencies. This is reliant on contributing YMCAs confirming their contribution quickly, and Regional Alliances of YMCAs, WAY and other international YMCA partners sharing this information and sending funds rapidly.
A disaster fund should be established and maintained at all levels to enable immediate response to future disasters: national YMCAs, Regional Alliances of YMCAs, and the World Alliance of YMCAs (WAY).
Efforts should be made to ensure YMCAs are confident following the International YMCA Emergency Response Protocol and Templates and a review of the templates should be planned by WAY with technical support from international YMCA partners such as Y Care International.
Investments should be made to develop a Liberia YMCA Disaster Management Strategy, appoint an emergency response focal person, and develop a Communications Strategy.
Investment should be made to build capacity of YMCA staff in a variety of skills areas including DRR, emergency response, project development, reporting, and M&E.
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities should be continued and scaled up to further build community disaster resilience. These should be informed by participatory Hazard, Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments (HVCAs) and community emergency response teams should be supported.
Liberia YMCA should continue to support community health peer educators and conflict management groups into the recovery period and beyond and continue community engagement while the Ebola outbreak continues in the region.
Efforts should be made to ensure evaluations and learning from YMCA emergency response is shared within the YMCA Movement and beyond so YMCAs and other local/national organisations can learn from each other’s experiences.