The ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 has had a significant impact in countries around the world, which has resulted in new travel restrictions and policies. We here at IBI have first-hand knowledge of how to continue critical program activities in challenging situations like these.
During the 2015 Ebola epidemic we managed our existing Liberia USAID-GEMS project, and starting up a new, State Department-funded Justice Administration and Management Support Project. Although we were operating in Monrovia at full capacity (while most other implementers shut down or curtailed their operations) things were not exactly normal. IBI implemented rigorous health and safety protocols and precautions designed to protect our staff and their families. These included daily briefings, frequent temperature checks, hand washing, and the provision of lunch each day so our employees would not have to risk exposure to the virus while going out for food. We supplied all of our employees with home safety kits that included protective gear, sanitation supplies, and a thermometer. We were very grateful that no IBI staff members or their families were infected.
IBI is also proud of the way we supported the Government of Liberia during the crisis. With the concurrence of our USAID partners, we recalibrated certain program activities to assist the Ministry of Health manage the international donations of vehicles and other supplies by setting up asset and fleet management systems, and supported efforts to procure additional supplies and services. We also provided advice to the Liberian government on using communications technologies to coordinate response efforts and pay remote workers.
COVID-19 is a very different epidemiological event than Ebola. However, many lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak can be applied to current events. We strongly encourage our colleagues in the development community to continue to follow the CDC guidance on such matters as social distancing. But we encourage everyone to embrace modern technologies that enable us to telework, have remote meetings with video capabilities, collaborate on files, and deliver webinars to continue to deliver our technical assistance to our counterparts and our clients.