Bond launches UK Ebola response hub

British NGOs centralize Ebola efforts in an online hub. Photo by: Devex

Efforts in the United Kingdom to fight the deadly Ebola outbreak were centralized for the first time in early November by an online Ebola Response Hub led by international nongovernmental organization membership body Bond.

Launched Nov. 3, the website provides resources to the more than 100 Bond-member and nonmember NGOs currently fighting the disease in West Africa to ensure responses are coordinated, as well as offering an email question-and-answer service.

Offline, hub member organizations will hold meetings on key response topics.

Built upon coordination efforts initiated by Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Rescue Committee, the hub focuses on four response priorities led by groups of international development professionals.

- The HR group, hosted by People in Aid, addresses issues such as recruitment, predeparture training for aid workers, health and safety, and support facilities for when staff members return.

- The programs and operations group is led by Bond and will share information on response activities.

- The advocacy and policy group is chaired by IRC and will seek collective engagement on key Ebola policy issues, including funding and resource mobilization.

- The British Red Cross will lead a high-level Department for International Development coordination group to exchange information with the U.K. government.

Mayur Paul, head of communications at Bond, said the aim of the hub is to make sure anyone thinking about a response can build on the work already done by the agencies responding.

“The problem a lot of agencies have identified is [that] people need to coordinate and be able to share resources,” he told Devex. “For example, to sort out insurance for sending out an aid worker to Ebola-hit areas and make sure they have medevac [procedures] in place if they do get the disease.”

The hub will continue to grow and provide new services, including information on programming, advocacy, policy and funding. Bond also plans to add contingency planning information aimed at organizations working in neighboring countries. In addition, Paul is currently discussing the possibility of granting development professionals access to situation reports from BBC Monitoring.

“This will allow everyone to have the latest information from the ground,” he said.

Bond is funding the project through its existing DfID grant, but is hoping for more money. Paul said they plan to run the hub for as long as necessary — even beyond when the disease is eradicated.

“Some of the needs we’re seeing are around the ripple effects, such as food insecurity and people not being able to work,” he said. “It’s not just a health emergency — there are other issues Bond members are responding to.”

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    Gabriella Jóźwiak

    Gabriella Jóźwiak is an award-winning journalist based in London. Her work on issues and policies affecting children and young people in developing countries and the U.K. has been published in national newspapers and magazines. Having worked in-house for domestic and international development charities, Jóźwiak has a keen interest in organizational development, and has worked as a journalist in several countries across West Africa and South America.