As a follow up to the distribution of radio handsets delivered at the peak of the Ebola crisis, Feba UK is embarking on a project that will use community-centred radio to help in the aftermath of Ebola.

Although Sierra Leone has been declared free of new cases, Ebola has left the country with a reduced economy and a weakened health system.  The virus may have been contained, but communities recovering from the epidemic still have significant needs following the outbreak, from thousands of children orphaned by Ebola, to survivors living with stigma and loss.  It is estimated that a possible 4 million people are at risk of starvation due to the distruption caused to agricultural production during the Ebola outbreak.

Alongside local partners, Feba UK is looking to address people's needs after Ebola using a method called SALT with community-centred radio.

Radio as reassurance

Radio is a preferred means for receiving information about Ebola in Sierra Leone.  An essential tool to promote understanding, radio can provide reassuring messages and build community resilience when tackling the spread and aftermath of Ebola. 

However, radio alone cannot succeed in responding to Ebola.  Feba's aim is to use a holistic approach with radio in Freetown.  This is not just about broadcasting health messages to contain further outbreaks - this SALT method is heavily geared towards approaching at a local level to gain trust and actively engage with local people.  When communities are working together collectively to improve their own physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, radio can help amplify their voices with broadcasts providing a wider understanding.

Ebola survivor Alieu tells Stephanie Mooney about his experience with Ebola.

Feba’s Partnership Team Director, Stephanie Mooney was recently in Sierra Leone to start the SALT pilot project, with partner organisations HCR, Affirm and BBN.

When participating in community workshops and gathering stories from the community, Stephanie met Ebola survivor Alieu. Alieu's moving story is both one of sadness and one of resilience; when he suspected he had Ebola, Alieu was initially turned away from a health centre.  Facing what he knew was a misdiagnosis of Typhoid instead of Ebola, when he finally accessed medical help he clung on to hope in order to survive. 

I was alone. At the end of the day, if you feel discouraged you die...everyone there lose hope. I was the only one [with] hope

Alieu, Ebola survivor in Freetown, Sierra Leone

To hear Alieu's story, and view the community workshop and participants, see Feba’s SALT in SIERRA LEONE video:

Feba’s joint approach with partners and local stakeholders is about communities coming together to rebuild after the virus.  The project will strengthen the local health system and help communities stay vigilant against a re-emergence of Ebola. 

Salt as a “social vaccine”    

Community ownership, promoted within communities through radio will help contribute to a "social vaccine" for Ebola, whereby communities use their strengths and experiences to contribute to solutions.  

As Christians, Jesus gave us the mandate to be the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” during The Sermon on the Mount.  We’re keen to keep our “saltiness” and the value and meaning of salt in a Christian context is important to us.   Working with churches, health facilities, local communities and radio, using a method called SALT seems very appropriate. 

Ebola has caused Sierra Leone to miss a year of normal life…From initial home visits and conversations through to community workshops, the SALT method builds trust and supports people to deal with the trauma that they've experienced to find their own solutions post outbreak. Radio amplifies these messages.

Stephanie Mooney, Feba Partnership Team Director. 

So what does S.A.L.T. stand for?

The acroymn has a few different interpretations, but the push of the method is the same:

S = Start a conversation, recognise Strengths, Stimulate community dialogue, Story

A = Appreciate the points being made, Ask questions about the story being told

L = Listen and Learn from the issues being raised

T = Transfer the learning, Team building.

Find out more about the SALT method and the Ebola response project in Sierra Leone by watching the video:

Watch the video