By Antoinette Sendolo
At the early stage of the Ebola virus in Liberia, many people fell prey to Ebola because the virus was new to the country and not many institutions knew how to deal with the virus.
But as the virus continued to iyensify thereby causing the death of several persons, many International and local Non-governmental Organizations shifted their focus in order to help combat the virus.
Global Communities is one of the institutions that received donors’ funds to help combat the spread of the Ebola virus which claimed the lives of many people during the outbreak of the virus in Liberia.
The West Africa Ebola outbreak “FACT SHEET #31, FISCAL YEAR (FY) 2015” published by the United States government (USG) shows that Global Communities received thirty-two million, seventy-six thousand, three hundred and sixty-five United States Dollars ($32,076,365) for health purposes as part of efforts to contain the spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia.
According to Global communities’ Communication Officer, Stephen Farshing, during a discussion with reporters at the IREX accountability training in Monrovia, before the outbreak of the virus in Liberia, Global Communities was mainly engaged with “communities based programs and other programs including the “Improving water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene program” which aimed at helping residents in six counties in Liberia and targeted neighborhoods in Monrovia to improve their overall health through better water supply systems, sanitation facilities and hygiene practices and the “Partnership for Advancing Community-based Service (PACS) project intended to support sustainable country ownership of community-based health, social welfare, and WASH services among others”.
Mr. Farshing said upon receiving the funds from the US government, Global Communities then shifted its focus on Ebola related programs to help in the fight against the virus. As part of its activities to help contain the spread of the virus, GC embarked on its “Assisting Liberians with Education to Reduce Transmission” of Ebola (ALERT) program to provide intensive and urgent outreach in Lofa, Nimba, and Bong Counties.
Global Communities was also one of the leading organizations that carried out safe burial during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. In order to carry out safe burial, Global Communities opened a burial site in Disco Hill near Monrovia in January of this year at which time cases of the Ebola virus was gradually reducing in the country.
During the discussion with Global Communities’ (GC) communication Officer, Stephen Farshing, he could not provide the time of the Ebola project and how much funds had been used and how much is left with the institution on grounds that he was new to GC.
“I cannot provide any information on how much GC has spent so far from the funds received to help fight the Ebola virus because I am just joining the institution. I don’t know how much money was spent but I think a good percent of the funds used went to vehicles because we have a lot of rented vehicles,”Farshing said.
When the spread of the virus was reducing in the country, Global Communities started its border surveillance program which is expected to end on September 31, 2015 according to their grant agreement.
Speaking to GC Border Surveillance, Supervisor Laretta George during IREX& LMC Situation Room Reporters’ visit to Cape Mount, she said that GC has ten triages in nine communities in Grand Cape Mount County.
She narrated that the process is intended to take records of people entering from Sierra Leone to Liberia in order for the country to maintain its Ebola-free status noting that about 100 people are recorded on a daily basis.
When Laretta was asked about the cost of each of the triages, she estimated 500 USD was being spent for each of the structure but she was not too sure of the amount.
“I am not really sure of how much was spent for each of the structures but I think it cost 500 USD per structure but I’m not really certain because I’m not an expert, ”Laretta stated.
According to the head of the border surveillance team in Cape Mount Judith Toe, she feels good working with the Global Communities Surveillance team because it is her first job since she graduated from high school and they are being paid 250 USD per month something she said has a great impact on her life.
“I am happy working with GC because since I left high school, this is my first job. It is helping me to save funds to enable me attend college. Here at the triage, we receive supplies from GC every week to carry out our work,” Judith explained.
With all Global Communities work with the border surveillance program and other programs that are aimed at fighting the Ebola virus, GC remains tight liped on providing information on how the funds was used and how much balance they have now that Liberia has been declared Ebola-free for the second time by the World Health Organization.
Several attempts have been made by IREX&LMC situation room reporters to get information from the relevant authorities at GC as it relates to funds they received for the Ebola fight but they are yet to provide the needed information.
After discussions with GC Communication Officer, Stephen Farshing,Laretta George, the Border Surveillance Supervisor and TarloBeyan, Community Led Total Sanitation Project Supervisor, no one could provide information on how much has been spent from the Ebola funds GC received from the US government.
All efforts made via telephone calls and emails to have GC authorities speak on the issue for the sake of accountability did not hold waters.