Rapid Collaboration, Learning and Adaptation: Community-Based Response to Ebola
With USAID’s support, Global Communities, in partnership with the Liberian Ministry of Health, has been implementing the Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in Bong, Nimba and Lofa counties of Liberia since 2010. When the first cases of Ebola struck Liberia in Lofa County in March 2014, project staff began immediately to adapt this WASH program to focus on Ebola-prevention. As Ebola spiraled out of control into an epidemic in the summer of 2014, the project was suddenly required to learn and adapt rapidly and collaborate more widely and with new stakeholders to come up with an epidemic-curtailing response.
The collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA) initiative had a primary objective: massively reduce infection caused by unsafe burials and dead body management, and a secondary objective: educating communities in Ebola-resistant behaviors. It took engaging with more than 15,000 community leaders to meet these goals. At the peak of the epidemic, through collaborating, learning, and adapting, the partnership was able to remove 98 percent of bodies within one day of death.
This case study was submitted as part of USAID's CLA Case Competition, held in August 2015. Taken together, this collection of submissions illustrates the diversity of ways collaborating, learning, and adapting approaches are being operationalized in the field. Stringent judging criteria was used to determine official CLA Case Competition winners, so not all submissions should be considered an official USAID endorsement of best practice. To view all entries, visit the CLA Case Competition page.