Case Study: Ebola Community Action Platform (ECAP), Mercy Corps, Liberia (Messengers Initiative)

In response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, Mercy Corps developed the Ebola Community Action Platform (ECAP), an emergency program to help Liberian communities protect themselves and access care. To ensure that information disseminated by ECAP reflected and responded to a real-time understanding of developments on the ground, the program partnered with more than 79 community organizations, which assembled more than 800 community mobilizers for the program. Mercy Corps provided mobilizers with smartphones and technical training so they could disseminate lifesaving information and collect real-time data at the community level.

Key Findings Include:

  • WhatsApp was most successfully adopted and utilized by younger field staff with greater tech literacy and curiosity and by the few who were already familiar with the app.
  • Limited training (less than two hours) with field staff who had not used WhatsApp before likely prevented the majority of field staff from adopting the tool in the field.
  • The use of an internet-based messaging application was an effective way to avoid any direct integrations with local MNOs, a requirement that limited the effectiveness of SMS.
  • Problems with installing and updating the WhatsApp application, and with using the application on dual SIM phones, limited adoption and hindered use in the field, especially for the less technically literate field staff.

This work is part of a wider messengers initiative with Echo Mobile. For the full project, visit our messengers page.

This case study was published in May 2018