Tanzania: 'Ebola funds impossible to track' - Oxfam

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - Global leaders are failing to honour their promises to communities devastated by Ebola in West Africa as US$5.8 billion of pledged recovery funds  proved almost impossible to track, Oxfam warned Sunday.

Six months after the International Conference on Ebola Recovery in New York, at least US$1.9 billion worth of promised funds has not been delivered and scant information is available about the remaining US$3.9 billion, the international humanitarian agency said.  

"We know that $1.9 billion of the promised funds have not even been committed to a specific country but we can't say for sure how much of the remaining committed money has been effectively delivered," said Oxfam's Regional Director for West Africa, Aboubacry Tall.

"A lack of transparency throughout the whole process, from donors to implementing organizations to programmes on the ground means we're finding it hard to understand which donors have given what money, to whom and for what purpose."

The Ebola outbreak has set the affected countries back years; shattered already inadequate health systems and ruined people's livelihoods.

In a statement, Oxfam insisted that donors and the governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea must act now to meet their commitments to communities by publishing accurate, timely and detailed information on aid delivery and Ebola recovery efforts.

"It has taken almost two years, more than 11,300 deaths, massive provision of resources, technical assistance and billions of US dollars from around the world to tackle the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Yet despite this, last week, another 150 people were exposed to the risk of Ebola in Sierra Leone according to the World Health Organization. This is not the end of Ebola in West Africa or globally," the agency said.

Tall said: "In order for the countries to quickly build the health systems they require, governments and communities need to know what aid they are getting, when it is coming, where it is going and they need to have a say in how it is used.

"We urge donors to ‘put their money where their mouths are' and demonstrate what transparency really means by, at a minimum, publishing information in accordance with International Aid Transparency Initiative standards."

As African Heads of State meet in Addis Ababa this weekend to discuss making 2016 the year of Human Rights in Africa, Oxfam has called on them to focus attention on the Right to Health.

Emphasizing that adequate investment in health systems, water, sanitation and hygiene is vital to protect lives, Oxfam recalled that 15 years ago, African leaders made a commitment to provide 15% of their budgets to the health sector.

According to the agency, the slow identification and response by government health services to the recent cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia clearly demonstrated that they were still not capable of responding effectively to Ebola and other highly contagious diseases.

Tall added: "Although Oxfam and other organizations responded by mobilizing community volunteers, this is not enough. If we are going to succeed, communities need to be a part of the process and a part of the planning, from the very beginning.

"After the recent outbreak of Ebola in Liberia, I was horrified to see the same patterns of distrust emerging. Rumours were rampant, some people didn't believe it was Ebola and others felt that it had been re-introduced on purpose. Rumours like these are extremely dangerous and can lead to community complacency."

In order to prevent the same tragedy from happening again, Oxfam has urged the governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to empower communities to take a leading role in their own healthcare, by making sure that local people are put at the heart of decisions about where resources go, and how they are used.

"Oxfam's experience during the Ebola response has shown that community leadership and trust in local health systems is absolutely vital and should be considered a medical necessity," the agency underlined.
-0- PANA AR 31Jan2016

31 january 2016 08:01:28

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