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Public Policy and Administration


Ernesto Escobedo


The 2014 Ebola crisis killed 11,315 people across 6 countries, making it the deadliest crisis globally since the virus was discovered in 1976. However, the roles played by nonmedical emergency management agencies (EMAs) in Liberia and Sierra Leone during that crisis remain unknown. The purpose of this study was to bridge the gap in knowledge by documenting the roles which were played or should have been played by EMAs in Liberia and Sierra Leone in responding to the 2014 Ebola crisis involving policymaking in emergency management (EM). The research questions focused on the roles that were played or should have been played by EMAs in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as similar agencies in West Africa in responding to the Ebola crisis. This study was a generic qualitative inquiry grounded in the functionalist theory. Purposeful sampled interviews with 12 EM experts from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana were used. An inductive thematic analytical approach was used in the data analysis. The results showed that EMAs played crucial roles in coordination, communication, and control of the movement of people. The study also revealed that EMAs should have planned for unfamiliar hazards before the Ebola crisis. Further, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should have ensured the synergy of EM resources of its member states when responding to epidemics that transcend international boundaries. Recommendations of this study include, planning for unfamiliar hazards, and the need for ECOWAS to develop a memorandum of understanding among EMAs of member states. This research provides a blueprint on how EMAs can appropriately respond to unknown epidemics in future to save lives in West Africa.

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