The scale of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented, and needed a massive coordinated global effort. As the largest international company operating in Liberia, we had an important role to play, not just in protecting our own workforce (you can read more about this in Outcome 1), but helping the wider public sector response. We spent over $ 1.3 million on the Ebola response, including the construction of a special treatment unit and two holding centres in Nimba County. We also donated ambulances, equipment and medical supplies, and funded an Ebola contact tracing project in partnership with a local NGO. One of the most significant contributions we made was to set up the Ebola Private Sector Mobilisation Group, or EPSMG, a coalition of more than 100 companies at its peak, who came together to share experience in tackling the Ebola outbreak.
The original aim of the EPSMG, set up in August 2014, was to share information about the disease, efforts to contain it, and its impact on the commercial mining sector in West Africa. We set the group up as part of our wider efforts to tackle the disease, and one of our principal objectives in doing so was to ensure we were doing all we could to protect our employees and contractors, their families and their communities. We believed we could do this best by learning together with other companies across West Africa. The group expanded very quickly and soon included businesses from many sectors, such as palm oil, logistics, and transport and agriculture, as well as well as 40 NGOs and government bodies. Country groups were formed in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Mali to act quickly on the ground.
And as the membership grew, the aims of the group moved from simply information-sharing to the mobilisation of resources to support the wider humanitarian and healthcare response. The group forged strong relationships with key international aid agencies such as the UN (including UNMEER and UNICEF), the International Red Cross and Resolve. These relationships have been critical, not just in fighting the spread of ebola and in caring for those affected by the disease, but also in encouraging the public and NGO sector to look at their business sector not only as donors but as active partners on the front line.
For further information see www.epsmg.com