This brief summarises key socio-cultural considerations of events related to death, burial, funerals (rites or ceremonies), and mourning in the context of the outbreak of Ebola in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces, DRC, August 2018. Beliefs and practices related to death, burial, funeral rites and mourning can (i) directly impact the transmission of Ebola and (ii) influence trust between communities and responders. Further participatory inquiry should be undertaken, but given ongoing transmission, conveying key considerations and immediate recommendations for safe and dignified burial practices and related community engagement have been prioritised.
This brief is based on the input of expert advisers in close communication with networks of contacts in North Kivu (community leaders, religious leaders, local authorities, clinicians, NGO staff, community members etc). It builds on a rapid review of existing published and grey literature, experience of previous Ebola outbreaks in the DRC and elsewhere and informal discussions with colleagues from UNICEF, WHO, IFRC, Oxfam, GOARN Social Science Group and others. Prior to finalisation, it was reviewed by expert advisers from Harvard, Anthrologica, Institute of Development Studies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, CNRS-MNHN-Musée de l’Homme Paris, Rikolto, Social Science Research Council, University of Edinburgh, University of Notre Dame, University of Ghent, University of Sussex and others. Responsibility for this brief lies with the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP).