Case Study: On the Ground Perceptions of Ebola

Keystone Accountability worked with GeoPoll to reach those in Sierra Leone

Keystone Accountability works to develop better ways of planning, measuring, and reporting on social change. Their Ground Truth program focuses on the constituents of humanitarian aid and their experiences, offering on-the-ground insights to those who distribute aid during a crisis or on an ongoing basis. GeoPoll’s work with Keystone is part of their ongoing monitoring of the Ebola situation in Sierra Leone, which is funded by DFID.

The overall aim of this project is to provide Ebola program managers with a regular flow of data on both perceptions of the frontline staff, and general citizen perceptions of the disease and the response. This enables frontline workers to understand what programs are working effectively and adjust those which are not, and also allows donors to receive regular feedback on projects they have funded. The data collected includes key information on the public’s trust of Ebola prevention information, and the willingness of the public to follow protocols designed to help stop the spread of Ebola. To read the full background of this project, click here.


GeoPoll conducts a weekly SMS survey of a randomly selected group of Sierra Leoneans. 350 completed surveys are collected each week from across the country, usually within a 24 hour time period. GeoPoll collects a total of 1,400 responses a month, allowing for ongoing monitoring of the situation on the ground. This trending data shows changes in perception in real-time, and data is presented through an interactive online dashboard so it can be easily analyzed and filtered by demographics include age and location. Data collection started in December 2014 and will continue through March 2015.


Results show that a majority of respondents believe that the Ebola response is making progress against the spread of the disease, with over 70% each week and up to 85% in some weeks saying they believe the Ebola response is helping. Results also show that a large percentage (above 90% each week) trust the information they are getting about how to prevent Ebola.

Other questions ask about Ebola checkpoints, quarantine, and attitudes towards those who have contracted and survived the disease. We have found that over 50% of respondents report that people are worried about harassment going through Ebola checkpoints, and that percent rose to 62.8% in the week of January 11th. Data also shows that people in Sierra Leone are worried about quarantine, with over 70% reporting each week that a lack of food and water contributes to people worrying about quarantine.

We also found that most respondents are ready to welcome Ebola survivors back into their communities, although an average of 10.3% said that people are not ready to welcome Ebola survivors back. Demonstrating the long-term effects of Ebola on communities, around 40% of those in Sierra Leone responded “no” to the question “are families able to make a living these days?”