Monrovia - As the Ebola virus declines in Monrovia and other parts of Liberia with normal marketing activities about to get underway, running a safe market remains one of the many concerns.  Amidst these concerns, the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund (SMWF) has begun training marketers in Ebola preventive measures to keep the market safe and clean.

The SMWF and the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) have adopted Ebola guidelines from the Ministry of Health (MOH) to be used in all markets. The guidelines adopted include frequent washing of hand, reporting suspected cases to proper authority via (4455), avoiding the touching of a dead person, avoiding the selling and eating of dry meat especial monkey meat as some methods in combatting the virus.

Marketers were trained by SMWF on these preventive measures and were challenged to serve as ambassadors in their respective markets. A marketer from Gbah Market, Momolu Scott said, the training was necessary to keep the market safe adding that the outbreak affected marketers badly.

Scott said that more Ebola awareness should be carried out in marketplaces around the nation. Scott added, “Limited education led to the loss of marketers’ lives and businesses.” “In the market we deal with all kinds of people. So, if we had this training before the Ebola got worse, I’m sure our markets were not going to be affected like it did,” Scott said.

Scott further said the outbreak took the lives of eight members of the Gbah Market. “It brought set back to our market.” He noted that with the training anybody who shows the signs and symptoms of the virus in the market and the community, the trained ambassadors in their respective communities will not sit but will immediately call the proper health authorities.

Scott also said, due to the losses incurred by market women as the result of the Ebola virus, Gbah marketers need a loan or perhaps grant to help the marketers get back on their feet to a full scale operation. Audrey Dangbaye from Logan Town Market said, the training by the Sirleaf Market Women Fund is important for marketers due to the different class of people they interact with on a daily basis.

“The training was ok, we actually need this training because we deal with people from different background so this training will help market women,” Dangbaye said. “I’m going to tell other market women who were not part of this training about the measures we should follow in the market so as to keep us safe.”

In addition, Dangbaye said the market needs support in putting all of the Ebola measures in place; the market does not have the financial strength to shoulder such responsibility. “We need help for Ebola materials to be used in the market, we need to keep the market clean,” Dangbaye said.

Dangbaye said, there are lots of market women who have left the market and are sitting home idly due to the losses they incurred as the result of the outbreak. Dangbaye added that some of the market women are constrained to get involved in other business due to the lack of funding to continue with their previous businesses. “We need people to help us with the loan; we can sell and pay it back,” Dangbaye said.

Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund Acting Executive Director Zarr Yarpah said, the training is intended to empower market women as ambassadors in mitigating the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in their respective markets and communities. Yarpah continues: "The training will increase the market women’s knowledge on the transmission and behavior change needed to the prevention of the Ebola virus."

Mr. Yarpah added that the training is to caution the market women not to relax the preventive measures of the Ebola virus, but to keep up with the measures. The participants were marketers from SMWF sponsored markets: Paynesville Market, ELWA Market, Gbah Market, Rally Time Market, Jorkpen Town Market, Clara Town Market, Logan Town Market, Barnersville Market, Duala Market, Omega Market, Bopolu Market, Waterside Market, and Redemption Day Market.

Mr. Yarpah said, since the outbreak the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund has been working with other partners and donors, including African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, the Ministry of Gender , Children and Social Protection and the Ministry of Health (MOH) in providing Ebola prevention materials to market women, creating Ebola prevention awareness via media, cleaning of the markets, and conducting training workshops on Ebola to the market women.

Yarpah said market women were faced with a lot of challenges during the outbreak, which have affected their businesses. The challenges include: quarantine measures, bans on group activities, closures of periodic markets and business areas, restriction of movement (limited boarder trading) and loss of income. "The Ebola virus has hurt the economy and livelihoods of the market women in Liberia, cutting in half the women’s total earnings. This has caused instability to the women’s livelihoods," Yarpah added.