Ebola crisis in Kaningo

The importance of hand washing

In July 2014, all schools in Sierra Leone were closed on government orders and remained so until the deadly virus was brought under control. 


From August 2014, CESO switched its fundraising efforts to support Ivor Leigh Jnr, our Director in Kaningo, in his community centred public health work and to ensure the school was able to open in mid-April 2015 when the worst of the crisis had passed.


At the heart of Kaningo, the School has functioned as a centre for community action with Ivor playing a major role as a community leader engaged in promoting and coordinating a local response to the emergency.

Ivor held meetings at the school to raise awareness of the virus, providing information on how to mitigate the risk of infection. The school became the organisational hub for a range of practical measures distributing hand washing pumps and disinfectant as well as reporting deaths, tracing contacts and supporting people in quarantine. This was distressing work for Ivor and his team. Sadly, during the crisis a number of people in Kaningo, including the local doctor, died after contracting Ebola

Thankfully in February 2015 we successfully gained UK government funds from the Department for International Development’s (DFID) Ebola Emergency Response Fund to help us with this work.


UK Aid enabled us to develop and extend our work through a social mobilisation programme, Ebola Response Interventions in Kaningo (ERIK), which ran from March to the end of May.  Ivor bought and distributed 32 non-contact thermometers, 100 hand-washing pumps and supplies of soap and disinfectant to key places in the community including schools, places of worship, hairdressers and the local cinema. Members of CESO’s Youth Project were recruited to staff three infection control checkpoints undertaking temperature checks, providing hand-washing facilities and providing information to reduce the risk of infection. Another team cleaned toilets used by the public and members of the Marimbo Women’s Group undertook infection control work in their locality.

Taking temperatures

As well as preventing the spread of Ebola and promoting good practice in personal hygiene, the UK Aid funds provided a source of income for the community health workers at a difficult time when many people had lost their livelihoods. With a number of the young people putting aside their earnings in anticipation of returning to higher education and the Marimbo women using the income to support their social enterprise business activity, the UK Aid has had a wider benefit to the community.


Even so, the Ebola crisis had a significant impact on the economic situation in Kaningo. Any help you can give either monthly or as a one off donation will be used to support the children in Kaningo to continue their education at the Ivor Leigh Memorial School.