The overall objective of this project was to prepare the Benin Red Cross Society for the event of an Ebola outbreak. 2014’s Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the largest to date, and the first ever outbreak in West Africa. The epidemic in the region began in Guinea and then spread to the neighbouring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. These three countries comprised the heart of the outbreak, having more than 11,000 deaths and over 28,000 cases between them. There were also smaller outbreaks in Senegal, Nigeria, and Mali. Benin, which shares a boarder with Nigeria, was at risk a high risk for the virus spreading into its lands because of its proximity to Nigeria. There is also is high mobility between the two countries on a regular basis, increasing the risk for spread of the virus. This project took place in the 14 municipalities bordering Nigeria, as well as in the cities of Cotonou and Porto Novo.
As the goal of the project was to prepare the Benin Red Cross Society for the event of an Ebola outbreak, early warning and response preparedness took centre stage. Staff and volunteers were trained in how to detect and handle suspect cases, and awareness messaging was distributed via radio, in schools, and through social mobilisation activities, the latter reaching over 140,000 people.
This project targets those living in the 14 municipalities bordering Nigeria, and people living in the cities of Porto Novo and Cotonou, which are a few kilometres from the Nigerian border.