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Average harvests and stable prices contribute to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Liberia
  • October 2015
Average harvests and stable prices contribute to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2016
  • Key Messages
    • According to the World Health Organization, as of October 21, 2015, Liberia continues to be free of Ebola. This is contributing to the recovery of certain livelihood activities, such as labor work and petty trade, and is strengthening household purchasing power compared to last year’s levels.

    • October harvests of rice, maize, vegetables and other crops are increasing food availability at the household and market levels and are reducing household demand on local markets. Food prices remain relatively stable which is also helping to maintain food access for poor households.

    • Most households are expected to be able to meet essential food and non-food needs due to ongoing average harvests, the gradual recovery of economic activities, regular rice imports from international markets, and stable food prices. Consequently, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected in all counties through at least March 2016.


    Projected Outlook through March 2016

    Satellite-derived rainfall estimates show that cumulative rainfall totals in October were average to above average across much of the country with some slight deficits in the south-east that have had no major impacts on crop production (Figure 3).

    According to FEWS NET’s most recent SMS-based trader survey conducted in early October 2015, 45 percent of interviewed traders reported that rice harvesting activities were ongoing in their local communities. However, only thirty five percent of traders stated that these agricultural activities were occurring normally, with the rest of the respondents reported either late and/or below-average activities (Figure 4). However, despite these possible crop production issues, key informant reports indicate that October harvests are, in general, gradually improving food supplies compared to previous months’ levels at both the household and market levels.

    In addition to these ongoing harvests, Liberia is expected to rely heavily on rice imports, similar to a normal year, to meet at least two thirds of national consumption requirements during the 2015/2016 consumption year. Currently, weekly and daily markets are open although the volume of transactions and number of sellers are still reduced due to the residual effects of the recent Ebola outbreak (ex. limited cross-border trade flows and reduced demand for some commodities, such as bush meat). According to food prices collected in September by WFP’s mVAM surveys, prices remain relatively stable compared to past months, which is helping to maintain household food access.

    Concerning agricultural labor, 64 percent of respondents to FEWS NET’s most recent trader survey reported that current opportunities were either similar to or higher than in a typical year. Household incomes from many other key sources, including petty trade and charcoal sales, are relatively normal and are proving households with average incomes to maintain their food access. However, incomes from bush meat sales, exports of palm oil to neighboring countries, and casual labor work on rubber plantations in Cote d’Ivoire still remain at below-average levels due to residual market disruptions, cross-border movement restrictions, and low household purchasing power. Consequently, while the economic situation within Liberia will likely continue to improve as Ebola-related fears wane, incomes for some households reliant on these sources are still expected to remain below average, limiting food access through market purchases.

    Food consumption in most areas has improved both in quantity and quality with the availability of many foodstuffs, including cereals, pulses and tubers, from the ongoing harvests. During the next several months, continuing rice imports and the main rice harvest will be adequate to meet local demand, which in turn will maintain food price stability and facilitate household food access through the projection period (October 2015 to March 2016). Moreover, the resumption of certain livelihood activities will help poor households meet their essential food and non-food needs without any major difficulties. As a result, all counties are expected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least the end of the outlook period in March 2016. However, some households reliant on income sources that remain at below-average levels (ex. activities relating to cross-border movements/trade, bush meat sales) may face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes although these populations are not expected to exceed 20 percent of the total population in any county and thus will not meet the threshold for a Stressed (IPC Phase 2) area classification.  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for October to December 2015

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for October to December 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2.   Most likely estimated food security outcomes for January to March 2016

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Most likely estimated food security outcomes for January to March 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly, as a percentage of the short-term average – September 30 to October 10,

    Figure 4

    Figure 3. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly, as a percentage of the short-term average – September 30 to October 10, 2015

    Source: USGS

    Figure 4. Status of ongoing rice agricultural activities, according to interviewed traders

    Figure 5

    Figure 4. Status of ongoing rice agricultural activities, according to interviewed traders

    Source: FEWS NET's trader survey

    Figure 2

    Source:

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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