WaterAid reacts to the spread of Ebola in West Africa

The spread of Ebola virus disease in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea is deeply concerning. WaterAid’s program offices in Sierra Leone and Liberia have been temporarily closed and program work has been suspended.

Jul 31 2014 | New York

A response plan to protect our staff as much as possible is in place, and we are carefully monitoring the situation in consultation with other INGOs operating in these countries. 

The medical community faces enormous challenges in battling this terrible virus. Ebola virus disease is spread by direct contact with infected animals or with bodily fluids – blood, semen, vomit and feces. Those who have died from the virus remain highly contagious and anyone washing or touching the body is at high risk of contracting the virus. 

The World Health Organisation warns against close physical contact with Ebola sufferers and advises high-level precautions for their caregivers. 

For travellers, and particularly those in affected regions, the WHO advises careful hygiene – including good handwashing with soap – as among the ways to protect against the virus. Regular, thorough hand-washing with soap and water can prevent transmission of many life-threatening illnesses. 

Girish Menon, Director of International Programs at WaterAid, said: "We at WaterAid are monitoring this situation closely and express our great concern for the victims and their families. We have worked in Sierra Leone and Liberia for the last several years, helping to rebuild fragile access to clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene after devastating civil wars. We have seen the great challenges involved in reaching rural areas, including health facilities and other public buildings, with these services.

"We will continue to promote these three basic rights to support government efforts to stop Ebola’s deadly transmission. These states are fragile and in need of international support at this time. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and communities."