The Last Well: Changing Lives of Liberians through Collaboration
The case is about a Texas-based non-profit The Last Well’s (TLW) commitment to bring clean water to all inhabitants of Liberia and to spread the Christian Gospel along the way. Liberia has long been known as one of the poorest countries in the world with a high incidence of death each year due to severe lack of safe water. While much progress has been made to solve the water crisis and improve the lives of Liberians, many challenges still remain unaddressed in the country. Todd Phillips (Philips) founded TLW in 2008 to address the issue of safe water and to spread the Gospel in Liberia. The case discusses TLW’s mission, vision, strategy, progress, and achievements in Liberia.
TLW joined forces with many organizations and stakeholders to bring about changes in Liberia’s water system. Through collaborative partnerships with other organizations, TLW put together a road map to ensure that its vision of providing safe drinking water to Liberian households within a walking distance of 15 minutes was accomplished. It believed that the collaborative approach could provide a lasting solution to the water problem in the country. The case provides rich insights into effective partner engagement, mobilization, and utilization of resources and a collaborative effort to meet the ambitious water and Gospel goals.
With the mapping of available water sources in Liberia, construction of wells and hand pumps, managing the delivery of water filters, and training on their installation and usage at the community level, TLW came closer to accomplishing its goal. The organization reached more than two million Liberians in five counties in Liberia through 8,000 water projects in ten years (2009-2019). Phillips was optimistic that he would meet TLW’s goal by the deadline (end of 2020) and he believed that with the completion of the project, Liberia would become the first developing country in the world to have universal access to clean drinking water and that the Gospel would have reached every Liberian. However, the project still had almost 1 million people left to reach in more than 4,000 communities.
Phillips undertook several fundraising initiatives to help bringing the organization closer to achieving its mission. The case highlights his determination to raise funds by drawing the attention of the donors to the fact that while they had an abundance of safe drinking water in America, Liberians were deprived of this basic necessity. The case offers insights into the impact of the collaborative partnership model on achieving the project goal and focuses on sustainability of the water system in Liberia beyond 2020.
AUTHORS: Debapratim Purkayastha and Benudhar Sahu of ICFAI Business School Hyderabad. Winner of the Glendal E. and Alice D. Wright Prize Fund for Conflict and Collaboration Case Studies in International Development.2020.
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