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According to the World Health Organization’s Ebola Situation Report of December 30, 2015, no new cases of the Ebola virus were confirmed in Guinea in the last 42 days. The country is working to prevent a new outbreak of the disease by implementing proper surveillance measures. This situation is favoring the renewal of economic activities across the country.
This year’s above-average production forecast will facilitate income-generating activities. Crop sales and the availability of agricultural employment opportunities will enable households to generate a normal income stream and adequately sustain their livelihoods. In addition, local markets are functioning normally and domestic trade flows between surplus and deficit areas are ensuring stable foodstuff prices for staples such as rice.
Widespread off-season farming activities abound in all parts of the country (for lettuce, okra, eggplants, tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage), and harvests of certain crops such as cabbage and carrots are already underway. The promising progress of these harvests will reinforce the availability of diversified food supplies and generate normal levels of household income through May 2016. As a result, most areas of the country will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between now and March 2016.
However, certain poor farming households or households of bush meat vendors whose livelihoods were destroyed by the residual effects of the Ebola outbreak could face rising levels of food insecurity during the outlook period (between December 2015 and March 2016). These households are concentrated mainly in the Boké and Kindia areas (among the last areas affected by the outbreak) and in the N’Zérékoré, Kankan, and Labé regions where Ebola’s economic effects have limited trade, reducing incomes and weakening purchasing power.
The joint November harvest assessment mission by CILSS, FEWS NET, WFP, FAO, and the Guinean government estimated cereal production for 2015/16 at 3,271,767 metric tons, which is 4.2 percent greater than the 2014/2015 growing season and 12.79 percent above the five-year average (see Figure 3). This season’s strong performance is due to average to above-average rainfall, relatively stable conditions for plant health, and timely provision to farmers of farm inputs and equipment from the government and its partners (which the Ebola crisis interrupted last year). The good harvests are facilitating normal income levels for poor households through seasonal economic activities such as farm labor and crop sales, enabling them to adequately sustain their livelihoods. The mobile food security (mVAM) surveys conducted by WFP in October 2015 show no change in household coping strategies but suggest certain improvements since June.
Harvests of rice and other flood recession crops continue in major crop-producing areas of the country. Widespread off-season farming activities (mostly for vegetable crops), including localized harvests of cabbage and carrots already underway, are helping to diversify food supplies and improve local nutritional conditions in crop-producing areas. This pattern will continue with the normal progress of harvests between now and May 2016. In the livestock sector, more and more frequented markets are slowly recovering and together with the rebound of slaughtering activities in government-regulated facilities could improve food availability and income levels for pastoral households.
Local markets are functioning normally, with no formal restrictions. A steady trade in staple foodstuffs such as rice, cassava, plantains, and in fruits and vegetables flows from surplus-producing forest areas to food-short northern areas. The seasonal stabilization of prices, driven by favorable food availability, caused prices to decline slightly from November 2014, for example, by 11 percent for locally grown and imported rice in N’Zérékoré. This price decline is improving household food access. However, cross-border trade is still limited due to certain actors’ fear to venture into Ebola-affected areas or the trade restrictions imposed by neighboring countries to control domestic supply and protect local farmers. Sierra Leone, for example, has banned rice and cassava meal exports to Guinea, which is undercutting the average incomes of farmers and traders dependent on cross-border trade. However, in spite of these restrictions on the movement of goods, the number of people crossing the border from Mali into Guinea has been steadily increasing according to data from IOM border crossing points, which showed 9,958 people entering the country in August, 10,953 in September, and 11,459 in October 2015.
According to key FEWS NET informants in Guinea, typical sources of seasonal income such as fishing, charcoal sales, wild plant products, cereal crop sales, and petty trade are providing households with a normal income stream enabling them to maintain their food access. On the other hand, income levels from artisanal activities, hunting, migrant remittances, and work in the mines are still below-average due to reduced trade on cross-border markets and a general slowdown of economic activities, as well as the ban on certain exports and the erosion of household purchasing power. This will limit the ability of households dependent on these activities to meet their nonfood expenses during the outlook period (between December and March). However, most parts of the country will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through March 2016 given the improvement in food availability and normalization of certain livelihood strategies such as farm labor, petty trade, and crop sales.
Nevertheless, certain poor farming households or households of bush meat vendors in the Boké, Kindia, N’Zérékoré, Kankan, and Labé areas could begin to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions between now and March 2016. Certain prefectures are still battling the stigma of Ebola after the most recent new cases of the disease. Moreover, the Ebola crisis interrupted the 2014/2015 marketing season in these prefectures. The combination of the hunting ban with the simultaneous slowdown in domestic trade of forest products and exports such as potatoes and palm oil, for example, negatively affected certain poor households’ incomes during the Ebola crisis; these households are still gradually recovering this year. The worst-off households are those that lost family members or their livelihoods such as their farms to the Ebola outbreak (finding it difficult to sell their crops, export goods, or engage in petty trade due to market disruptions, etc.). Thus, their earnings from their main income sources have been below-average. As a result, the purchasing power of most of these households will be limited, possibly causing them to reduce certain essential nonfood spending.
Figure 3. National cereal production levels
This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.