Illustrative Results

Instilling Experienced Pragmatism to Help Fight Ebola

In 2014 we witnessed the impacts of both fear and immense courage in overcoming the largest and longest Ebola outbreak in history. With over 10,000 deaths in West Africa, the outbreak killed more people than all other Ebola outbreaks combined. While progress has been made in slowing, and in some cases stopping, the spread of Ebola, the fight is far from over and continued effort is still needed. Throughout the fall of 2014, InterAction facilitated collaborative discussions around response challenges and helped organizations overcome obstacles.

In the heat of the crisis, the United States experienced both a strong desire to help those in need and a crippling fear that our assistance could put our loved ones at risk. The fear of Ebola at home was heightened when a few Ebola cases where treated on U.S. soil, sparking widespread concern and some scientifically unfounded reactions. Policymakers were urged to establish travel and visa barriers, although this would have hindered humanitarian efforts to stop Ebola at its source.

As a convener and united voice, InterAction formed an Ebola working group and Ebola communications sub-group to identify, address, and educate the public and policymakers about challenges, opportunities, and the continued needs in combatting Ebola. Over 30 InterAction member organizations courageously mobilized to respond to the crisis, and InterAction worked hard to capture each member’s efforts on its website.

Over 30 InterAction member organizations 
courageously mobilized to respond to the
Ebola crisis.

InterAction facilitated information sharing opportunities with experts at the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the United Nations, and private foundations. And InterAction was the main interface for the NGO community to the U.S. government and the Global Ebola Response Coalition (GERC), the coordination body established by the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response. Additionally, as public fear of Ebola spiked in the U.S., InterAction staff and members worked hard to educate the public and policymakers at the state and federal levels about the potential harm visa bans, travel bans, and elongated quarantines would have on the Ebola response. InterAction also organized community advocacy for increased U.S. funding to combat Ebola – which Congress eventually granted in December of 2014.

Throughout the crisis, InterAction convened members and leveraged their expertise to inform the public and key policymakers about effective methods to combat Ebola at its source. Going forward, InterAction and its members will continue to engage the public and policymakers on lessons learned and recommendations about how the U.S. can assist West Africa in recovering.

Photo: Morgana Wingard for USAID