OREANDA-NEWS. On October 21, 2015, the Rural Water and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) Trust Fund of the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced a EUR 3-million grant to support the implementation of the National Post Ebola Recovery Strategies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The RWSSI Trust Fund donation responds to the need to build resilience to Ebola in the countries affected by the epidemic through sustainable improvement of water and sanitation for the most vulnerable segments of population. It is expected to play a catalytic role in improving community response to outbreaks.

The unprecedented spread of Ebola in 2014 has been closely associated with the lack of capacity and resources to respond promptly and effectively to the epidemic. The original epicenters of the outbreak in the three countries are situated in remote rural border areas, where the coverage figures for safe water and improved sanitation are very poor. In Liberia for example, over 50% of the 656 health facilities have no on-site water and sanitation. In Sierra Leone, 3 000 schools are without water and sanitation. In Guinea, 29% of rural households do not have access to any kind of toilet facility. Through its support for post-Ebola reconstruction, the RWSSI Trust Fund has yet again shown its commitment to achieving sustainable development by putting the furthest behind first.

Capacity-building and awareness of the role of water and sanitation in preventing the spread of disease are key to the RWSSI post-Ebola program. The objective is to ensure that rural communities are trained to manage and maintain water and sanitation facilities themselves, backed with training on the health and economic benefits, namely a reduction in water-borne diseases, less time spent fetching water, and less money spent on health care. Women and children are expected to gain the most from improved water and sanitation.

Experience suggests that even though the Ebola epidemic has now been contained, the virus may remain latent in the region. “The fight should not lose momentum and our donation should address the most immediate needs of the communities most at risk. We will start now to build the capacity to prevent and respond to another potential crisis,” said Mohamed El Azizi, Director of the AfDB Water and Sanitation Department.

The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative Trust Fund grant will build on the AfDB’s previous emergency support programs for Ebola and is integrated into a health-sector loan to Sierra Leone and Guinea, the Post Ebola Recovery Social Investment Fund, with a total volume of EUR 30 million. Funds will be hosted at the Mano River Union Secretariat and disbursed in accordance with the National Post-Ebola Recovery Plans of the target countries, complementing and coordinating work with other partners.