Ebola Conference On Community Leaders Begins Thurs.

The first national Ebola conference focusing on the perspectives of community leaders will take place in Monrovia March 19-20, 2015 at the Bella Casa Conference Hall. Community members will share their experiences with officials of government, local and international organization actors under the theme “Ebola’s Impact on Communities: Learning from Their Experiences to Plan for the Future.” Participants will reflect on the Ebola crisis, analyze its impacts, and highlight the mistakes, challenges and success stories.

The conference, organized by NAYMOTE and WEX with USAID funding, will bring together 100 participants from across various communities within the country. Representatives from the U.S. Embassy, the Centers for Disease Control, USAID, traditional leaders, government officials, international NGOs among others will grace the conference.

The conference is a result of 60 Community Leaders’ Forums organized by eight national NGOs through IREX/USAID grants. The input from over one thousand ordinary community leaders in thirteen of Liberia’s fifteen counties revealed common issues across the country and enlightening information on how the communities set about dealing with them.   This week’s conference will host panel discussions on four thematic areas identified by the community leaders, as follows: (a) Government Communications and Engagement with Communities, (b) Health Care Infrastructure, (c) Social and Traditional Issues, and (d) Emergency Preparedness. Panelists, will include community leaders, government officials, and representatives of international and local organizations.

In her remarks to US President Obama about the Ebola crisis, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said, “The one critical element in all of this was our people, particularly our community people,. . . they took responsibility, they took leadership and they took ownership. And going forward, we want to strengthen them.”

The conference’s goal is to facilitate the President’s desire to strengthen Liberia’s communities by providing them a forum for sharing their experience and perspectives with all stakeholders. Thus, she has been invited to serve as keynote speaker.

At the end of the first national Ebola conference, the organizers will document lessons learned, best practices of community engagements, and recommendations by publishing a report to begin the process of national healing and planning the next steps toward post-Ebola recovery.