Doing Development Education: Ebola – resources and ideas

Photo: The fight against Ebola in Guinea by European Commission DG ECHO via Flickr (April 19, 2014)
Photo: The fight against Ebola in Guinea by European Commission DG ECHO via Flickr (April 19, 2014) CC license.

The past few weeks have witnessed an avalanche of discussion and debate on the 30th anniversary remake of Band Aid by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure with its emphasis on the Ebola crisis which threatens to become, according to Oxfam ‘the definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation’.

In typical swashbuckling style (and much to the annoyance and ire of the ‘aid and development industry’), Bob and Midge have upped the ante on public awareness (if not understanding) of the issue. The hype offers a useful opportunity to discuss and debate the Ebola crisis, public awareness on emergency situations and related elements.

Just this week, TIME magazine announced its Person of the Year: Ebola frontline fighters. Five men and women health workers are featured.

Here are some of the debates on Band Aid and celebrity activism:

As regards Ebola itself, there are a number of excellent resources available to support enquiry and learning, notably from Oxfam UK:

The resources explore what caused this crisis, what its effects are and how it can be tackled.  The Oxfam resources – Behind the Crisis – offer:

  • a teacher’s guide (and it is equally useful outside formal teaching contexts)
  • a PowerPoint presentation (a brilliant tool)
  • a workshop plan (using an ‘issue tree’ methodology)
  • a (limited) information sheet and
  • links to a set of audio and video clips.

The curriculum links (UK) are also useful for reflecting on integrating the issue into subject areas. It comes as a highly recommended resource!

Kenya-based Mail and Guardian Africa have produced a very interesting piece by Christine Mungai which traces the evolution of the virus and includes an historical table on outbreaks since 1976.

A wide range of articles, maps, graphics and debates on the virus can be found at the Poverty to Power blog. Here are some excellent graphics on the crisis:


Source: Ebola v other Killers in West Africa by The Economist
Source: Ebola v other Killers in West Africa by The Economist

A set of World Health Organisation graphics can be accessed (along with very useful map); and another excellent graphic by Will Anderson on the facts and figures behind the virus.

Focusing on the issue of Ebola rather than the hysteria of Band Aid

There should be plenty in the above materials to generate a productive discussion and to provide a backdrop to the arguments about Band Aid (cringy or what?) focused on the issue rather than the hysteria.

At the risk of sounding like an apologist for Midge, Bob and Band Aid, I disagree with a lot of the criticisms and attacks; something I will come back to shortly (having written at length about the first Band Aid foray into ‘developmentland’ in 1986).

Responses to Ebola from Ireland:

and on the sites of the individual aid and development agencies from Ireland, including:

Note: on the subject of small countries and aid and development policies see an interesting blog from Oxfam’s Duncan Green following a visit last week to deliver a Kapuscinski lecture (Storify pickup here).

Infographic: Ebola’s hidden cost by Concern Worldwide