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Communication for Development (C4D)

Ebola and C4D

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


The spread of Ebola in West Africa has slowed dramatically, but the challenges remain huge in defeating this scourge while re-establishing basic social services and building resilience in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The outbreak has been unprecedented in scope and intensity, and hit some of the most vulnerable communities in some of the world’s poorest countries. Millions of children have been affected in some way or other -- falling victim to the deadly virus, becoming orphans, facing stigmatization, losing months of school education, and being traumatized.

International solidarity remains essential in the immediate response and in helping address the conditions – particularly weak health systems and deficient sanitation – that enabled a localized epidemic to escalate into a major crisis. Helping the affected countries build back better will mean they’ll be better equipped to prevent another such an outbreak and to tackle other killer diseases – such as malaria, measles, pneumonia and diarrhoea – that take a heavy toll on children.

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.

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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