The report – Ebola Virus and Forest Fragmentation in Africa – released by EFA and ERM Foundation in September 2015 – has generated much interest within circles like USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats (Phase 2) programme and its PREDICT initiative (including the EcoHealth Alliance and MetaBiota) and researchers in CIFOR and a few European universities, not to mention within UNDP Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) is funding a consortium to pursue the work further for the full 12 months of 2016.
In view of this, a small group of about twenty individuals from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Germany, UK and USA [with backgrounds in agronomy, zoologists, forestry, conservation biology, medicine, epidemiology, GIS and land-use, development planning and governance]. will meet on the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary in South-Eastern Sierra Leone on 10-11 December, to critically assess the report’s findings, and make recommendations on how to focus the research in 2016 as well as formulate recommendations and an initial strategy to support policy-makers in the three EVD-affected countries to support initiatives/land-use practices to reduce the risk of outbreaks of zoonotic diseases like EVD.
The key objectives of the meetings will be:
- To review and comment on the findings of the report ‘Ebola Virus Disease and Forest Fragmentation in Africa‘ in an interdisciplinary context, providing input to future research,
- To identify strategies and actions to influence long-term strategic development planning in the three EVD-affected countries, and
- To identify a few, realistic, practical measures to demonstrate how to incorporate current knowledge into development initiatives in the coming 2-5 years.
On Friday and Saturday 4-5 December, the Director of EFA and representatives from the European Union Delegation – Infrastructure Section, visited several communities in Kenema and Pujehun Districts, as part of routine monitoring of the Rural Energy Activating Livelihoods (REAL) project. So far about eighty installations of solar lighting equipment have been completed in forty communities across four districts – Kailahun, Kenema, Kono and Pujehun.
During this visit, installations were assessed in schools, clinics and charge centres in Blama, Gorahun and Ngiema (Kenema District) and in Potoru, Vaama, Kambama and Jene in (Pujehun District). The team was warmly received by the school children, youths, clinical staff and local authorities at all the sites. It was evident from the interactions between the EU team and community people, that solar lighting was already making a big difference in the social and economic livelihoods of thecommunities.
The ERM Foundation is working with the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA), a Sierra Leone-based conservation NGO, to research suspected links between forest fragmentation and Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreaks in humans. The idea for the ERM Foundation-sponsored study arose from various reports suggesting that fragmented forest landscapes may increase frontiers of contact between human populations and animals that carry the Ebola virus. Our research looked at a number of index case locations, where the Ebola virus first jumped from its ‘host’ (hypothesized to be a species of bat) into the human population.
Investigating links between forest fragmentation and Ebola virus disease
EFA together with representatives of the European Union – are visiting the Rural Energy Activating Livelihoods project (REAL). Funded by the EU, the project is currently implemented in four districts in Sierra Leone: Kailahun, Kono, Kenema and Pujehun. Aim of the project is to improve the quality of livelihoods in rural communities by giving them access to renewable energy.
Environmental Resources Management (ERM) hosted a roundtable event in Washington DC on 29 October to present the findings of a recent study undertaken jointly by the ERM Foundation and the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA). The study investigated the hypothesis that forest fragmentation may increase the likelihood of the Ebola virus passing from its wild host (hypothesided to be bats) to humans.
Participants at the roundtable included representatives from the World Bank, Metabiota, Eco Health Alliance, Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Critical Ecosystems Parthership Fund, DAI and InterAction. This follow’s last month’s launch of the report, with the support of UNDP, in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
This Washington DC roundtable represented EFA and the ERM Foundation’s on-going efforts to engage widely with relevant organizations and individuals to vet the study’s findings and work collaboratively to identify concrete ways to move forward in terms of additional research and and the policy recommendations that arise from the study.
EFA is particularly interested in feeding these recommendations into post-Ebola recovery planning, and to ensure that better forest management is thoughtfully and systematically included in impact assessments for development programs.
EFA is currently planning a regional inter-disciplinary meeting in West Africa to take this process forward.
I visited Tiwai Island over the weekend and was joined by the PCs Magona of Barri and Kanneh of Koya Chiefdoms. Also visiting was Umaru Wood, Planning and Development Manager of the National Tourist Board. The sight of fallen trees and badly damaged structures, invoked a feeling of awe and wonder. The thought of one storm causing so much physical damage in less than 10 minutes, was incomprehensible, yet real.
I was encouraged by the proactiveness of Paramount Chiefs Magona and Kanneh, who agreed on site, that all eight Tiwai host communities, will take part in the clearing up of the site. And there is a lot of clearing up to do, but we expect this initial phase of the rehab work to be completed in 2 weeks. Meanwhile, we will engage with all of our partners and friends of Tiwai to assist in whatever ways possible, with the rehabilitation of the facilities at Visitor Centre.
EFA and its partners, with the support of the host communities and their leaders would like to assure all the friends of Tiwai, that we will do our utmost to get the Visitor Centre functioning again before Christmas.
Many thanks to you all, for your support over the years.
Biodiversity Learning Centre
The Environmental Foundation for Africa has just started a pilot program and invited 100 children from 5 different schools from around the Western Area Peninsular in Sierra Leone to our Biodiversity and Renewable Learning Centre on a 10-week journey to love nature and appreciate their environment.
On Tuesday 22nd September 2015, the UNDP Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, David Maclachlan-Karr and Executive Director of the National Protected Area Authority, Dr Kolleh Bangura launched a report by the Environmental Foundation for Africa and the ERM Foundation – Ebola Virus Disease and Forest Fragmentation in Africa.
Dear Friends and Colleagues
EFA and the ERM Foundation are pleased to share the final report on their study, which attempted to establish the links between Ebola Virus Disease and Forest Fragmentation in Africa.
We hope you will find the report useful for your work and please share within your networks. The link to the report is:
EVD and forest fragmentation in Africa_Summary
Ebola Virus Disease and Forest Fragmentation in Africa_Report
Chers Amis et Collègues
EFA et la Fondation ERM sont heureux de partager le rapport final sur leur étude, qui a tenté d’établir les liens entre la maladie d’Ebola Virus et Fragmentation de la forêt en Afrique.
Nous espérons que vous trouverez le rapport utile pour votre travail et s’il vous plaît partager au sein de vos réseaux. Le lien vers le rapport est:
Maladie à virus Ebola et fragmentation des forêts en Afrique