Nearly half the population of Sierra Leone is under the age of 18 years, and the impact of the Ebola crisis on their lives now and on their future opportunities has been far-reaching: no school; loss of family members and friends to the virus; and changing roles and responsibilities in the home and the community.
To date, there has not been a formal process for children to outline their own priorities for recovery to decision-makers. In mid-March 2015, child-centred agencies conducted a Children's Ebola Recovery Assessment (CERA) in nine districts across Sierra Leone to create a mechanism for more than 1,100 boys and girls, to discuss issues of concern; assess the impact of the crisis on their roles, responsibilities and future opportunities; and to formulate their recommendations for recovery.
The findings of the CERA powerfully demonstrate the diverse and interconnected impact of the outbreak for children living through the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. Children identified four issues of concern:
- The impact of school closure on their learning, social interaction and protection and their desire to return to education;
- The many and varied direct impacts Ebola has had on their lives, including grief, fear and anxiety;
- Limited access to healthcare for common health problems; and
- The wider economic impact of the crisis on their families and communities, including access to food and family livelihoods.