The Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic entered Liberia through Lofa County in February 2014 and spread to two health districts where the nongovernmental organization Global Communities had been implementing community-led total sanitation (CLTS) since 2012. By December 2014 the county had 928 Ebola cases (422 of them confirmed) and 648 deaths. Before the epidemic, CLTS was triggered in 155 communities, and 98 communities were certified as Open Defecation Free (ODF). Using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods, we determined that no cases of EVD were found in ODF communities and in only one CLTS community that had not reached ODF status. No differences were found between EVD and non-EVD communities in tribe, religion, ethnic group, or major sources of Ebola information. Radio was the most common source of information for all communities, but health workers were the most trusted information sources. CLTS ODF communities attributed their avoidance of EVD to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene behaviors, especially hand washing with soap and disposal of feces that they learned from CLTS prior to the epidemic. Communities that got EVD blamed their strong initial resistance to Ebola response messages on their distrust that Ebola was real and their reliance on friends and family for advice. A strong inverse correlation between EVD and CLTS with or without ODF emerged from the regression analysis (R=–.6).
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