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Average harvests expected to maintain Minimal acute food insecurity

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Liberia
  • August 2014
Average harvests expected to maintain Minimal acute food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Most poor households across the country are meeting their basic food and non-food needs through their typical livelihood strategies. Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is expected through December 2014.

    • The Ebola outbreak continues to be a national health concern; although the impacts on food security outcomes are currently limited. However, prolonged quarantines and additional travel restrictions could significantly limit the supply of staple foods to markets in quarantined areas, resulting in reduced food availability, higher-than-usual staple food prices, and a deterioration of food security. 

    • Due to favorable rainfall conditions, the main agricultural season (April – October) is progressing in August with early harvests of cowpea, vegetables, and rice which is expected to end the lean season in September as usual. 

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    Northwest Liberia

    Quarantines are being established to limit the spread of Ebola in affected districts and cities, although field reports suggest that they are not yet fully in place.

    Additional quarantines could cause staple food price increases and limited trade flows. This may reduce household food access in quarantined areas.


    Projected Outlook through December 2014

    National overview

    Rainfall has been consistently above average across Liberia since April, according to USGS/NOAA cumulative rainfall estimates. As a result, the agro-pastoral season is progressing normally, supporting good crop development. This favorable rainfall is also supporting the prospect of an average and on-time harvest between September and January.

    Regular supplies of imported rice and newly harvested local products, such as cowpea, vegetables, and cassava, are meeting normal lean-season demand. This is contributing to improvements in the availability of staple foods and is providing households with normal levels of income in order to maintain their food access. Other typical livelihood activities, including petty trade, charcoal, and labor on rubber plantations are also providing households with normal levels of food and income.

    Ongoing and impending harvests should bring the lean season to an end as usual in August/September and provide good local food availability. Regular and normal market supply of imported rice and at least an average harvest starting in September, coupled with normal livelihood strategies will enable poor households to meet essential food and non-food needs through the coming months. Acute food insecurity will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through at least December 2014.

    Approximately 37,727 Ivorian refugees remain in Liberia, many of whom engage in petty trade, casual labor, skilled work, and hunting. However, those residing in refugee camps in Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Nimba, River Gee, and Montserrado continue to rely mostly on humanitarian assistance. Limited travel across international borders due to Ebola may limit the return of these refugees to Cote d’Ivoire in the coming months. 

    Ebola Outbreak

    The Ebola outbreak continues to claim victims with a cumulative total of 972 suspected and confirmed cases, including 576 fatal cases reported by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia and WHO, as of August 21, 2014. Outbreaks have been reported Lofa County near the Sierra Leone-Guinea-Liberia border and along main ground transportation routes through Bong, Margibi, Bomi, Montserrado Counties to the capital, Monrovia.

    Households with ill or deceased members will likely face the most acute food security impacts, due to reduced income and productive activity. Some households may see reductions in income as a result of reduced trade of bush meat and fewer opportunities for petty trade and transportation of people to and from the outbreak areas. However, given that households in hunting areas meet most of their food needs through farming, with hunting providing supplemental income, it is likely that the food insecurity impacts due to reduced consumption of bush meat will be limited.

    On August 1, the heads of state for Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia announced a cordon sanitaire (or quarantine) to try to contain the spread of Ebola within a triangular area near where the borders of the three countries meet, including parts of northwestern Liberia. Field reports suggest that the quarantines are not yet fully in place, but once established, sanitary control team composed of civilian and military doctors and health volunteers will be placed on the main entry point along the border. These teams will make the screening for the travellers that want to pass the border and those that present some symptoms are thoroughly explored.

    However, stricter travel restrictions in addition to those already planned, especially those that would significantly limit the flow of staple foods into these districts or the flow of harvests from rural areas to main consumption markets, could result in reduced food availability, higher-than-usual staple food prices, and a deterioration of food security. FEWS NET will continue to monitor the situation to identify new quarantined areas and any potential food security impacts.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. West Africa Ebola Outbreak, as of August 18, 2014

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. West Africa Ebola Outbreak, as of August 18, 2014

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Source:

    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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