How a People's Science Helped End an Epidemic
Distributed for Zed Books
Paul Richards draws on his extensive firsthand experience in Sierra Leone to argue that the international community’s alarmed response failed to take account of local expertise and common sense. Crucially, Richards shows that the humanitarian response to the disease was most effective in those areas where it supported community initiatives already in place, such as giving local people agency in terms of disposing of bodies. In turn, the international response dangerously hampered recovery when it ignored or disregarded local knowledge.
One of the first books to provide an in-depth analysis of the recent pandemic, Ebola offers a clear-eyed account of how and why the disease spread, and why the predictions of international commentators were so misguided. By learning from these mistakes and successes, we can better understand how to harness the power of local communities during future humanitarian health crises.
1. The world’s first Ebola epidemic
2. The epidemic’s rise and decline
3. Washing the dead: does culture spread Ebola?
4. Ebola in rural Sierra Leone: a technography
5. Burial technique
6. Community responses to Ebola
Conclusion: strengthening an African people’s science
Appendices: evidence and testimony from Ebola-affected community members (Chapter 5)