Ebola in Sierra Leone: Leveraging Community Assets to Strengthen Preparedness and Response

Lawrence Sao Babawo, Foday Mahmoud Kamara, Esther Yei Mokuwa, Gelejimah Alfred Mokuwa, Marion Baby May Nyakoi, Paul Richards*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter offers a summary account of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone 2014–2015, paying particular attention to local level response. The role of social and cultural factors in both supporting and hindering medical response to the disease is discussed. Local public authority was important in determining the success of response efforts. A lesson for pandemic preparedness is that responders should focus on improving coordination at the local level. In some cases, this required local conflict resolution. An example is given where unaddressed community conflicts complicated epidemic management. Ebola, however, is a readily legible disease; local communities quickly understood how infection spread. A comparison with COVID-19 shows that infection patterns are much harder to read with the SARS Cov-2 virus. In this case, public trust will be a decisive issue.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunication and Community Engagement in Disease Outbreaks
Subtitle of host publicationDealing with Rights, Culture, Complexity and Context
EditorsE. Manoncourt, R. Obregon, K. Chitnis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030922962
ISBN (Print)9783030922955
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Community response
  • COVID-19
  • Ebola
  • Public authority
  • Trust


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