Start Fund activated for underfunded Cholera response in Cameroon

August 5, 2014

The sixth Start Fund allocation was made last week in response to the Cholera epidemic in Cameroon. £139,915 was awarded on Friday 1st August to Plan and International Medical Corps, who will distribute medical supplies and raise awareness of the disease over the next 45 days, in the hope of reaching 318,862 people.

Cholera was first detected in Cameroon in March, and an epidemic was declared in May. It was thought that the outbreak was under control, until the numbers of confirmed cases began rising rapidly in the last fortnight. The alert was raised on July 29th, with the alerting agency describing how the crisis is compounded by the rising influx of refugees in the region, which has contributed to growing food insecurity.

It went on to describe how: “Donors have prioritised their efforts in CAR and in responding to the refugee crisis in neighbouring countries, while the cholera outbreak has been largely ignored.”

The briefing notes from ACAPS and Development Initiatives confirmed that there have been “no new donor pledges specifically for the response since the epidemic was declared”, but that “if needs are not met, the consequences of cholera spreading could be severe.”

Both Plan and IMC are already operational within the targeted districts, and can draw upon established relationships with local health and communications services. Their presence and acceptance within the communities will expedite a rapid response, which will be critical for the containment of the disease.

Because of the added emphasis on speed with this alert, it was decided that project selection should take place in the UK after local volunteers could not be confirmed in the usual time frame. A group made up of members of the UK project selection committee and staff from the Start Team undertook a light but robust process. Their experience will feed into the learning generated during this design phase.