Ebola Outbreak, Sierra Leone: Communication: Challenges and Good Practices

Publication language
Date published
01 Dec 2015
Factsheets and summaries
Disasters, Epidemics & pandemics, Urban
Sierra Leone

After the Ebola outbreak was declared in Liberia in March 2014, early portrayal of Ebola as an incurable killer disease was met with intense mistrust, resistance and fear by many communities and early responders (The Guardian, 09/2014). As the outbreak spread, it was important to find appropriate ways to inform people how they could minimise the risk of catching the disease and what to do if it affected them and their families.

The way messages were developed and disseminated evolved with the epidemic. In Liberia the number of cases spread uncontrollably until September 2014, finally getting to zero in May 2015, before re-emerging twice on a very small scale. Communication remains a key aspect of community mobilisation efforts to address remaining Ebolarelated issues, such as survivor stigma and complacency towards prevention measures.

This is the first of two reports that ACAPS is producing with the aim of identifying lessons learned and good practice in community-led communication processes. This report focuses on Liberia and the second covers Sierra Leone. The grey boxes indicate content that relates to communication in emergencies in general and is common to both reports. The report covers the changing behaviours of the affected population, the most effective channels for reaching communities, the most trusted actors for information delivery and the adaptation of messaging to the needs of affected populations. These insights suggest ways to better address communication needs in future outbreaks.