Investments in learning during the Ebola outbreak shape COVID-19 responses in West Africa: evidence from Sierra Leone and Nigeria


  • Alfred Makavore CARE
  • Emily Janoch CARE


epidemics, Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE), Ebola, COVID-19, knowledge management, learning, After Action Review, leadership, public health, public health in emergencies


In emergency response investing in learning is often seen as a luxury that will take resources and focus away from the people most in need. However, in COVID-19, building on learning from the Ebola outbreak in 2014, and from previous experiences responding to Ebola, was critical to getting an effective response mobilized quickly. The time and investments in documenting lessons learned and in building learning and collaboration spaces allowed many countries in West Africa to quickly respond to COVID-19 in more effective ways. In particular, we were able to quickly apply lessons about communicating risk more effectively, about engaging with community leaders to reinforce healthy behaviors that would protect people, and about collaborating across partners to develop tools and resources that would support the government?s public health response. We are applying the lessons from Ebola about how to learn and document good practices to our COVID-19 response. This includes special attention to working with communities to document learning and understand what is and is not working.

Author Biography

Alfred Makavore, CARE

Alfred S. Makavore is a Public Health Professional from Sierra Leone, that has worked for CARE International in the West Africa Region for well over a decade now. He currently runs CARE?s health programming in Nigeria. Alfred is also involved as a frontline responder to the COVID-19 pandemic this time around with CARE Nigeria, where he and his team are practically adapting and applying most of the learning, models and best -practices from the past Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone and the Mano River Union Region (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Cote d?Ivoire) at large.


NA--this is a personal reflection