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Minister announces €650,000 in response to cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone

Irish Aid, Press Releases, Africa, 2012

Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, T.D., today announced emergency funding in response to a cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone, where an estimated four million people are at risk.

€650,000 is being made available to support the relief activities of Oxfam, Plan Ireland and Concern Worldwide to prevent the spread of the disease and to assist those already affected. This funding will provide clean and safe water and sanitation facilities in a country where it is estimated that less than half the population have access to safe water.

Minister Costello said: 

“The cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone has already affected over 17,000 people and has resulted in at least 250 deaths. The numbers affected continue to rise and the disease has spread to all bar one of Sierra Leone’s 13 districts. This funding will support the Government of Sierra Leone in responding to the needs of those affected.

When the scale of this epidemic became apparent in August, Ireland immediately offered assistance, providing €200,000 to UNICEF for its activities to prevent, contain and treat this disease.

The additional funding that I have approved today brings to €850,000 the total assistance provided by Ireland to date in response to this cholera crisis. With the school year recommencing, a particular focus will be placed on ensuring that school children have access to clean and safe water, as well as access to treatment.  During my visit to Sierra Leone earlier this year, I visited health facilities in Freetown and saw for myself the challenges faced by health workers.  Our latest financial assistance will aim to support their important efforts”.   

Note to editors:

Cholera is rapidly transmitted through contaminated water sources and requires early treatment to prevent fatalities. Sierra Leone is currently experiencing extremely heavy rains, which is increasing the risk of unsafe water and the rapid spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera.

The additional funding announced by Minister Costello brings Ireland’s total assistance to one-tenth of the €8.5 million required by international agencies to respond to this epidemic.

Ireland’s total bilateral assistance to Sierra Leone in 2012 now stands at €3.25 million.