Awareness raising done right: The Story of Ebola

Awareness raising is a key part of communication for development; it is used to spread knowledge on various topics and inspire to action. However, to produce a successful awareness raising campaign one must do their homework and have a strategic approach. This includes knowing the message, audience and methodology.

One of my favourite awareness raising products is a video entitled “The Story of Ebola” produced by the Global Health Media Project in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UNICEF and Yoni Goodman. Have a look at it below, and then let’s go through what a good campaign needs and why I find this video sucessful. Let me know in the comments if you agree!

Firts off, the video is described by its producers as;

This animated story is told by a young girl whose grandfather dies from Ebola and puts the rest of her family at risk. It brings to life the many messages that are so crucial in understanding this disease on a community level.”

Know your message and desired action.

To start with, a successful awareness raising campaign needs a clear message and encourage to a clear and feasible action. Many campaigns seems to fail on the second part, as just sharing information is often not enough.

The video provides information on the Ebola virus disease and how it spreads by weaving messages into the story. The desired action is to protect communities from the disease and to limit the spreading. This is done by encouraging good hygiene practices (washing hands) as well as reporting suspected cases to local health workers.

Know your context and audience

For an awareness raising campaign to lead to increased understanding and action it must be adapted to the targeted audience. The Ebola video was developed during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and targeting community members. Since, it has also been spread widely in East Africa during the Ebola outbreak in the Democrativ Republic of Congo.

Know your strategy and delivery method

Once the message/action and the audience is clear, it’s is time to ensure that there is a strategy adapted to these. The producers of the Ebola video wished for people to see themselves within the context of an outbreak. It uses the mean of storytelling, which is part of the culture of the intended audience. In my opinion, this is a real strength of this awareness product.

Since this is a video, it is possible for illiterate people to understand the message, in comparison with awareness raising materials in the form of e.g. a poster or flyer with written information. Furthermore, the visual depiction, such as making the invisible germs visible, makes it easy to follow the video and understand, even if one doesn’t understand the language of the narrative. That being said, the video is available in a number of languages, including English, French, Swahili, Lingala etc.

To learn more about awareness raising campaigns, and especially what to avoid, I recommend reading “Stop Raising Awareness Already” by Ann Christiano and Annie Neimand in Stanford Social Innovation review.


  1. lotta wara

    Hi Louise,

    I must say this is a very good piece for awareness raising. I like the fact that the beneficiaries themselves are the protagonist of the video. This will be more engaging with communities in case a facilitator would want to use it as an awareness raising campaign example during a training with the local communities.

    I also agree with you that video in the form of storytelling is a great source for awareness raising. However, when choosing a video its advisable to chose a video with a clear language that is tailored to the beneficiaries. Once again, nice post! I look forward to your next post.

  2. Safi Sabuni

    Hello Louise,

    I just read through your post and really like how you analyse and give hands-on tips for good awareness raising campaigns. I really like the story. It stuck with me as one I will remember as a good awareness raising video, not only was it informative, but it gave the perspective of a child and the story is very clear and simple.

    I also believe it is a very interesting time to talk about awareness raising campaigns, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am curious to see what impactful awareness-raising efforts there will be online, both from organised sources but also from user-generated sources. It’ll be interesting to observe the effectiveness of both in informing about diseases and crises.

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