Catching up with Sierra Leone: The numbers

Ph.D. dissertations are a funny thing: some form the basis of a life-long examination of a single topic, some serve as training or staging grounds in which a new researcher can cut her teeth, and yet some may foreshadow future work in ways that are not easy to anticipate. My job in Manchester seemed at first to take me in an entirely new direction away from that 2012 Cornell dissertation, and yet recent turns of events keep bringing me back to it with a vengeance. Between 2009 and 2011 I became a bit of an expert on Sierra Leone and Liberia – or more specifically on their politics and post-conflict reconstruction. Now that the world’s gaze is once more fixed on the Mano River region – sadly for tragic reasons – I have decided to catch up with Freetown and Monrovia in order to find out whether my claims back in 2011 retain any scrap of relevance a couple of years – and elections – later. Continue reading Catching up with Sierra Leone: The numbers

The real numbers behind the ebola crisis in West Africa

The Liberian information minister has acknowledged that the ebola outbreak ravaging his country is “overtaxing” the public health system; MSF drops the pretenses and claims the system is “falling apart” (BBC). There are two ways to interpret the current epidemic in the Mano Region: one could argue, as the minister does, that the scale of the crisis is due to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea being on the “frontline” of the disease; or one could argue, taking a step back, that it is the weakness of the Liberian state which has allowed this outbreak to become a full-blown epidemic (the same claim could be made about the inability of Nigeria‘s state elite to educate and protect its citizens in the North). There are many figures being thrown around in the current crisis: but what are the numbers that really matter?

Continue reading The real numbers behind the ebola crisis in West Africa