This working paper reports on a study to identify the pace of Ebola-related social learning in urban and peri-urban areas around Monrovia, Liberia during August 2014, at the onset of the emergency phase of the epidemic. The research demonstrates how under conditions of accelerating health crises, social learning is rapid even in a context of heightened instability, suspicion, and misinformation.

Misleading information in the form of local rumours and unhelpful government and international healthcare messages complicate this process and can produce anxiety. However, contrary to widespread assumptions of ‘ignorance’, and amidst the circulation of conspiracy theories, communities were able to uptake essential information regarding Ebola transmission and management rapidly and efficiently.