On 1 August 2018, the 10th epidemic of Ebola virus disease was declared by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). With a total of 3,463 cases and more than 2,200 deaths (WHO, 2020a), it is the world’s second largest Ebola epidemic after the West African outbreak. The epidemic is also intertwined with years of conflict, insecurity, chronic and acute humanitarian needs and population displacements.
This complexity has meant the response faced significant access challenges as well as community distrust. About a year into the response, a perception survey carried out in Béni, North Kivu revealed that only 27% of affected communities agreed with decisions made by humanitarian actors; 19% believed their opinion was taken into account; and just 34% knew how to make a complaint or give feedback.
Finding a systematic and predictable model of coordination to collectively engage with communities in a meaningful and coordinated way has been a significant challenge, one which is examined in this report. The paper identifies lessons from the 10th Ebola outbreak that must be seized both for current and future responses in DRC, as well as globally, to support more systematic and collective approaches to risk communication and community engagement.
Anne-Lise Dewulf, Antoine Mushagalusa Ciza, Léon Irenge, Emmanuel Kandate and Veronique Barbelet