Accepted paper:

Bridging between the Governmental Policies and Local Measures: Patronage Network of Political Elites in the Ebola Epidemic in Sierra Leone


Hideyuki Okano (Kindai University)

Paper short abstract:

During the civil war in Sierra Leone, patronage network were used to mobilize rural people for organizing the governmental militia. The same method of mobilization was used during the Ebola crisis. This mobilization enabled to form a bridge between the governmental policies and local measures.

Paper long abstract:

Sierra Leone experienced the epidemic of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) between 2014 and 2016. This paper points out that local people were mobilized for containing EVD through patronage network, and that made it possible to coordinate the governmental policies and local measures. In the discussion of political science, patronage networks have been considered as tools of political mobilizations (Chabal and Daloz 2001; Takeuchi 2001; Utas ed. 2012). Sierra Leone experienced two catastrophes; the civil war (1991-2002) and the Ebola epidemics (2014-2016). Previous researches argue that patronage networks were used for mobilizing combatants in the course of the civil war (Hoffman 2011; Okano 2019; Richards 1996). This paper argues that similar method of mobilization was used to tackle the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. In the initial stage of the epidemic, the government and international agencies attempted to implement measures against EVD without the assistance of the local people. However, it created confusions. In order to defuse the situation, political elites were used to connect the medical staffs and the local people. These elites, who have strong personal ties to local people conveyed the knowledge of EVD to the local people, and distribute resources for preventing EVD such as bucket, thermometer and chlorinated water. Through the patronage network of these political elites, local people were mobilized to establish checkpoints to prevent the spread of EVD. Even though a lot of ethical problems are left, the involvements of local people were considered to be crucial for containing EVD.

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