Once receiving a clean bill of health after treatment for Ebola, survivors still need support to manage the trauma of the illness, and the loss of livelihoods that persist long after the virus has left.
Playing an important role
The World Food Programme’s (WFP) cash transfers play an important role in reintegrating Ebola survivors back into their communities and helping them to return to normal life.
A survivor’s journey
Kadiatu was living a peaceful life in a town just outside of Freetown, Sierra Leone until the day she tested positive for Ebola. She and her husband, as well as her young daughter, contracted the virus from a friend who was sick, although they did not realise it was Ebola at the time.
“[Our friend] died on Christmas day and the following day those of us who had been around her started falling ill. My sister, who was eight months pregnant, started vomiting blood and I took her to the hospital. On our way back home I started vomiting and was admitted to an Ebola treatment centre.”
Fortunately, Kadiatu and her family are among the lucky ones who survived the virus. But when they were released from treatment, Kadiatu was greeted with mixed emotions when she learned that forty-two members of the same compound, where she had been living, did not survive the disease.
Providing much-needed food assistance
In Sierra Leone, WFP is providing support to Ebola survivors and their households with an enhanced food package after they are discharged from treatment. This 30-day food ration consists of rice, pulses, vegetable oil, and a highly nutritious corn-soya blend for making porridge. The rations help ensure survivors and their families are not missing essential nutrients.
Since August 2014, nearly 13,000 people, including survivors’ family members, received household food rations.
In addition to these food packages, WFP has recently started a new type of assistance package in Sierra Leone: cash assistance. Survivors receive two monthly distributions of cash transfers, which allow them to purchase their own food, empowering them to choose what they eat.
Cash transfers support nutritious food and more choices
About 100 km away from the nation’s capital lies Waterloo, where Ebola survivors from this community are gathered at the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Ebola treatment centre, waiting to receive their cash assistance from WFP. Among the beneficiaries is Kadiatu, who will receive her first cash payment.
“I left [my home] at 6.00 to get here early so that I could leave in enough time to take care of my family,” said the mother of two, balancing her baby on her back.
With this money, she said she would be able to buy food like beans, fish, and vegetable oil, as well as the staple, rice. She also hopes to use part of the money to restart her fabric business.
Kadiatu is one of about 3,000 Ebola survivors receiving cash-based food assistance from WFP across Sierra Leone, which was made possible through support from the Government of Japan.