The world's second-deadliest Ebola outbreak and the tenth epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which occurred in the East of the country, was finally declared over on the 25th of June 2020, after almost two years of combined efforts of the DRC authorities, civil society and the international community. In total, 3.470 people were affected by Ebola (3.317 confirmed and 153 probable), of which 2.287 people sadly lost their lives and 1.171 people survived. Previous outbreaks and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have shown the impact health epidemics can have on people’s lives. To understand how this outbreak had impacted people living in North-Kivu, IRC conducted an assessment in March 2020.
The following report is based on focus group discussions and key informant interviews from ten communities in Beni and Butembo, North Kivu. The purpose of this assessment was to collect data from communities, to listen to their perspectives on how the Ebola Virus Disease affected their lives. The report explains the methodology, and findings across multiple program sectors as well as recommendations. Some key findings include:
The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) disrupted people’s well-being, including fear, stress and panic. People also reported they had experienced a lack of understanding and acceptance of the disease, due to how it was introduced, and had experienced fear to seek health care.
Security was one of the major concerns for the people interviewed, both related to the EVD response period as the future. Attacks against health workers and health facilities created fear, with community health workers reporting being threatened and attacked. People also expressed their concerns about what would happen after the EVD response would stop, with fears that there would be an increase in criminality and banditry due to the high unemployment that would follow.
The EVD had also socio-economic effects. Men and women reported that there had been changes in the relationships within families and communities, decision-making within households, and more conflicts and disagreements. Livelihoods were also disrupted as access to fields and markets became more difficult, and the labor market was affected due to people who were recruited for the EVD response. Women were exposed to higher threats of sexual exploitation and domestic violence, and children’s access to health and education were affected as well.
People felt left out of the response initially, as there was little implication of local actors, and communication from response actors created confusion. In future responses, communities recommend ensuring that various local actors participate in activities and that communications approaches and messages are adapted to their realities.
Sexual exploitation and abuse was a significant problem for women. Communities are also concerned about stigma and the isolation as a consequence which they would experience, and the return of the disease.
Fourteen percent of the people perceived changes in their needs compared to before the EVD outbreak, with an increase in needs for WASH and health. When asked what the most pressing needs were in March 2020, WASH, health, income-generating activities and security were most often cited by groups and individual men and women.
When asked what the international community can do to help the recovery of the communities affected by EVD, the most common responses were related to income-generating activities, hygiene awareness and promotion through different channels.