During the reporting period, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak led to a drastic turn of events that deeply affected Sierra Leone and overturned previous development gains. EVD came at a time when Sierra Leone was on an upward development trajectory and had made success in consolidating peace, stability and democratic governance. The country’s progress had been so impressive that even the United Nations Secretary-General referred to Sierra Leone as “an inspiring experience for international peace-building efforts,” on a visit in March 2014. By the end of July, however, the Government of Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency within the country, banning public gatherings and restricting the movement of people in the most affected areas. Aside from loss of life and the way the outbreak crushed the health-care system, EVD also made a considerable impact on the education sector and led to the indefinite closure of schools, as well as the postponement of the Basic Education Certificate Examination and the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE). The closure of schools negatively influenced the implementation of various Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA) activities and the delivery of education services to more than 1.8 million children. As of 31 December 2014, all 14 districts had dealt with reported cases of Ebola, and country health officials confirmed 7,476 cases and 2,461 deaths.
In spite of the emergency situation and suspension of some activities, several PBEA projects continued to provide peacebuilding and education support to communities, and made gains towards meeting 2014 targets.