The Power of Technology In International Aid


Freetown Mudslide

How technology prevented a cholera outbreak in 72 hours.

When we initially found out about the devastating August 14th Freetown mudslide, our first reaction was sadness and to not get directly involved. Our operations are in rural communities and expertise in economic development, not disaster relief. We felt the people affected would be best served by the larger NGO's with larger budgets and expertise in disaster relief. Things quickly shifted.

Within 24hrs, TVL was working with a small group of nonprofits, spanning across 3 continents, to organize relief efforts. The group consisted of Families Without Borders, The Waterbearers, Schools for Salone and local Sierra Leone based nonprofit, Young People In Action for Development (YOPAD). Through the power of WhatsApp, we were able to raise funds, build a plan, lock down logistics and volunteers in country in just 72 hours.

Our goal 

Help prevent a cholera outbreak through delivery of Wave to Water, water filters. Each filter can provide clean drinking water for 100 people for up to 5 years.

The plan

Deliver 100 filters installed in large buckets to relief camps housing the mudslide victims.

How we did it

  • TVL lead logistics planning, provided food and lodging for volunteers and raised $2,000 to cover transportation and 50 water buckets;
  • The Waterbearers contributed 100 filters shipped in from Liberia; 
  • Families Without Borders provided student volunteers to help with the distribution of buckets/filters in the initial 2 days;
  • YOPAD provided additional volunteers, sourced buckets, and has been TVL's key partner on ground for on going relief support after the initial delivery;
  • Schools For Salone contributed an additional $10,000 in supplies for victims and provided a vehicle for transportation.

The results

  • Delivered 50 filters / 100 buckets
    (2 filters bucket);
  • Delivered to 8 relief camps;
  • Estimated number of people served: 3700.

TVL utilizes WhatsApp on a daily basis to communicate with people in Sierra Leone, plan, execute and monitor our on-going programs. We knew this communication app would be the perfect tool in planning this relief effort. It afforded us the ability to pull off a successful relief effort with high impact and minimal expenses. It goes to show the role that technology can play in international development.