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Minimal food insecurity expected to continue through the lean season

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Liberia
  • April 2013
Minimal food insecurity expected to continue through the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Due to last season's good harvests, household food stocks remain above-average. Although the lean season has started normally in April in the southeast, poor households throughout the country are still able to meet essential food and non-food needs through normal livelihood strategies. From April through September 2013, households are expected to face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. 

    • Voluntarily repatriation efforts to return Ivorian refugees to their home country were suspended in late March due to increased insecurity in western Cote d'Ivoire. Most of these refugees are active in income generating activities and are expected to stay in Liberia for the near future. Those living within camps will however remain partially dependant on food assistance. 





    • Approximately 62,000 Ivorian refugees are residing within Liberia with a high concentration in the southeast. This includes an estimated 37,000 refugees living in camps.
    • The majority of these refugees are expected to remain in Liberia through the coming months. Refugees in camps will continue to rely partially on food assistance.

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    Land preparation activities are ongoing for the rice and vegetable planting season, which started in April in the southeast and will start in May in other areas of the country. Near average rainfall conditions in March and April will allow for the timely start of planting activities for rice and vegetables, as well as groundnuts and cowpeas in the northeast and plantains in the east. Seasonal forecasts (NOAA, IRI, ECMWF) indicate normal rainfall conditions for most of the season with a slight increased probability of below-normal rainfall between July and September. As the skill of these forecasts is still low, FEWS NET is anticipating for now a normal rainy season and a normal harvest next August/September.

    The above average 2012/13 harvest of rice (up 2.6 percent compared to last year and 2.9 percent compared to the four-year average) and other major crops has contributed to normal food stock and crop income levels for poor households. In the southeast where the normal lean season started in April, household food stocks are at low but  above-average levels for this time of the year. These stocks are enabling poor households to rely less on imported rice compared to a normal year.  In other areas of the country, the majority of households continue to meet their basic food needs through their own production. Low demand for imported rice in March continues to maintain low rice prices (on average, 3 percent below February's levels and 8 percent below last year's levels). In addition, current and pending commercial stocks of rice are reportedly sufficient to meet Liberia's population needs through next August.

    Prices for cassava, a substitute for rice during the lean season, are also currently stable as compared to last year. Prices for this commodity will likely follow normal seasonal trends, meaning that prices will increase through the peak of the lean season (June/July in the southeast and August in the rest of the country) due to increased consumer demand.

    In the center, north, and eastern areas of the country, an important income generating activity at this time of the year is the harvesting of palm oil. This year, this activity is providing above-average incomes as high local and foreign demand (particularly from Guinea) is keeping prices for palm oil at levels about 10 percent higher than last year's levels.  Incomes from other sources, including charcoal sales and casual labor opportunities, have been seasonally normal and similar to last year.

    According to the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), the Ivorian refugee population was estimated at 61,153 in early April. Between December 2012 and March 2013, UNHCR and LRRRC organized the voluntary repatriation of about 5,500 Ivorian refugees. However, this effort was suspended in late March following increased civil insecurity in western Cote d'Ivoire. As a result, the majority of the remaining refugees are expected to stay in Liberia where they are improving their living conditions through income generating activities such as crop production, agricultural labor, petty trade, forestry products sales, mining, charcoal production and sales, hunting, poultry management, and transportation services. The estimated 37,000 refugees living in camps will also remain partially dependant on food assistance from the WFP. Market functioning in areas hosting refugees is relatively normal with refugees participating in market activities as both buyers and sellers.

    Normal cash income levels for poor households, coupled with the last season's good harvests, will enable poor households to meet essential food and non-food needs through the coming months. As a result, poor households throughout the country are expected to face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through September 2013.  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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