Communication for Development (C4D)

Ebola and C4D

What exactly is the Ebola disease? How does it spread? And what can you do to help fight it?


The Ebola outbreak is ravaging communities across West Africa and requires urgent and continued action to decrease its threat to the lives of millions of people. Communication for development (C4D) is especially necessary in this crisis because containing the outbreak requires a shift in the rituals and activities of entire populations. Spreading knowledge and information requires a range of communication tools to be effective and UNICEF’s C4D team is well placed to help with this work on the ground in the countries hardest hit.

The scale of the crisis is unique and its consequences are dire and far reaching. An estimated 8.5 million children and youth under 20 years old live in Ebola-affected areas in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Of them, 2.5 million are under the age of five. Children are not only facing the risk of being infected by the virus but are also being significantly affected in many other ways.

For children, the impact goes well beyond contracting the virus. Thousands of children have witnessed their loved ones – including one or both of their parents – suffer and die. Children who are sick themselves have to be isolated from their families and caregivers and cannot be held or consoled through direct physical contact.

The immediate focus of UNICEF is to help contain and control the spread of the disease and address the immediate needs of communities, including supporting preparedness and prevention efforts. Engaging in and with communities is the primary way to help individuals and families protect themselves, care for and transport the sick, and enable those appointed to safely bury the dead.

Ebola case studies 

UNICEF backs a nationwide effort to reach every household with lifesaving information in Sierra Leone’s three-day, door-to-door Ebola prevention campaign (read full story story below).

The stories below are examples of UNICEF C4D on the ground, getting info and ideas to as many people as possible to help keep them healthy and safe.

Radio helps schoolchildren catch up on learning
One of the hidden impacts of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea is that children have missed out on six months of learning – schools did not reopen after the summer recess, instead staying shut to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Supporting Ebola survivors on the road to recovery
When child survivors like 10-year-old Hawa emerge from the plastic-walled Ebola treatment centres, there are relief, smiles and often a joyous mix of dancing and singing.

Reaching out to root out Ebola
A dozen people sit in the shade of a jackfruit tree, commenting on an illustration that shows a Muslim cleric and a few mourners watch men in protective suits conducting a burial. “While there is Ebola, we cannot have burials the way we are used to. We cannot touch the body,” one of the villagers says, drawing nods and mm-hmms of approval from the rest of the audience.

How technology assists in UNICEF's response to fight Ebola 
International organizations like UNICEF are no stranger to dealing with devastating medical outbreaks like the ongoing Ebola crisis happening in West Africa, which has already claimed almost 5,000 lives. To engage local supporters, UNICEF recently hosted a speaker luncheon in San Francisco to explain the powerful work they have been doing on the ground throughout Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The main speaker was Dr. Kerida McDonald, the UNICEF Senior Advisor for Communication for Development (C4D).

Stop Ebola in Sierra Leone
The Ose to Ose Ebola Tok initiative, which means ‘house-to-house talk’ in the Sierra Leonean local language, will see over 28,500 trained social mobilizers, youths and volunteers go to door-to-door to reach 1.5 million households and provide them with information on ways families can protect themselves against the Ebola virus disease and prevent its spread.

Girls Launch A-LIFE
In Liberia, 150 adolescent girls trained by UNICEF and partners marched across the West Point community in Monrovia to launch Adolescents Leading the Intensive Fight against Ebola, or ‘A-LIFE’.

Door to door campaign to prevent Ebola's spread
UNICEF, the Guinean Ministry of Youth and Youth Employment and other UN and Civil Society partners, empowered 2100 youth volunteers to go door to door in Conakry, Guinea to inform the public about Ebola and distribute chlorine and soap.

Photo essay: The end of Ebola begins at home
UNICEF supported a Government-led social mobilization campaign aimed at reaching every household in Sierra Leone with life-saving information on preventing further spread of the disease. A virus of opportunity, Ebola is preying on already weak health systems with outstripped resources and overworked personnel, as well as misinformation and fear.

Inside Sierra Leone’s campaign to stop Ebola
A volunteer explains how Ebola is transmitted, what the symptoms are and how to prevent it. Everybody listens, even the youngsters. A woman in her twenties asks questions about the way Ebola is transmitted. Afterwards she starts screaming, dramatizing a scene: “Do not touch me, do not touch me” whilst her mother chases her, stretching her arms, and touching her belly. The neighbours laugh. Humour is a common antidote in the face of this dreadful disease.

UNICEF is working for children in West Africa: Ebola prevention on UNICEF Sierra Leone FacebookUNICEF Liberia Facebook, UNICEF Guinea Facebook English French

Preventing and stopping Ebola is part of our work

Read our blog for more stories of UNICEF on the ground
Read the latest news from UNICEF's media team 
Read more about the support and guidance of UNICEF's Ebola supply and logistics team   

Read this rich and informative Medecins sans Frontieres booklet on treating Ebola patients




Frontline worker guidance
Clinical Management of Patients with Ebola
Pocket Guide for Front-line workers - English - French

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